Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoes bill that would have banned transgender athletes from competing

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender athletes from competing in women's and girls' sports. (AP/John Hanna)

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill that would have banned transgender athletes from girls’ and women’s sports in the state on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

The Republican bill was pushed through both the House and the Senate, though they do not have enough support to override a veto of the bill.

Kelly has called the bill “regressive,” and said that such a law would hurt the state’s business climate while also showing people that “Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their families.”

“As Kansans, we should be focused on how to include all students in extracurricular activities rather than how to exclude those who may be different than us,” she said, via The Associated Press. “Kansas is an inclusive state and our laws should reflect our values.”

Kansas latest to consider transgender athlete bill

Kansas is just the latest state to consider such a bill in recent months, something that Republican lawmakers across the country have taken a new interest in.

Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi have all signed measures like this into law this year, joining Idaho’s move last year. Idaho’s bill is facing legal challenge, however, and also allows for transgender girls and women to actually have their genitals checked if their biological sex is changed while not applying the same standard to transgender boys or men.

Utah lawmakers debated a similar bill this year, which prompted both Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith and team president Jim Olson to meet with them and warn that the bill would likely cost the team the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. The league pulled the game from North Carolina in 2016 after its “bathroom bill.”

While these bills are becoming more and more common, most lawmakers can’t actually cite any actual scenario or situation where transgender participation in youth sports has caused a problem.

An Associated Press survey last month reached out to lawmakers in states debating these bills, and almost nobody was able to cite a concrete example to back up their concerns. A South Carolina lawmaker said she didn’t know of a single transgender athlete competing there, and Tennessee house speaker Cameron Sexton said the same thing while insisting that their bill was just “proactive.”

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