KANSAS – Tuesday, the Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 484, a bill that would prevent transgender students from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity, from the elementary to university level. The Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 208, another anti-trans sports ban, last week. Both bills are now in the House and await a hearing date.
Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb both vetoed similar bills in their states this week, rejecting discriminatory anti-transgender sports bans approved by their state legislatures. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed Senate Bill 55, a bill nearly identical to SB 484 and SB 208, after legislators passed it last year. These types of bills and the incendiary, hurtful language surrounding them have a detrimental impact on Kansas’s vulnerable LGBTQ+ population that is already three times as likely to experience depression and nearly twice as likely to experience anxiety as non-LGBTQ+ Kansans.
Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley released the following statement in reaction to the Kansas Senate passing SB 484 and SB 208:
“Transgender students are kids – kids who, like their classmates, deserve the opportunity to experience the benefits of participating in school sports. SB 484 and SB 208 are regressive and damaging legislation that hurt vulnerable youth and don’t address an actual problem. There’s a reason Governor Kelly vetoed this same legislation last year: it is a crass political ploy by lawmakers looking to satisfy national anti-LGBTQ+ forces at the expense of the well-being of Kansas’s transgender youth.
In states around the country, transgender children have been playing sports consistent with their gender identity for years without issue. They are kids who deserve to be able to have fun with their friends, exercise, and learn how to be part of a team. We call on the Kansas House to refuse to engage with this conversation, which is predicated upon misunderstanding, disapproval of, and discrimination against transgender youth. These kids are just kids, and they should be allowed to play.”
The latest PRRI data show that support for LGBTQ+ rights is on the rise in Kansas and nationwide: 77% of Kansans support nondiscrimination protections, and 57% of Kansans oppose refusal of service on religious grounds. Approximately eight in ten Americans (79%) favor laws that would protect LGBTQ+ people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects an 11% increase in the proportion of Americans who support nondiscrimination protections since 2015 (71%).