Kansas Governor Laura Kelly on Thursday rejected a bill that would bar male students from competing against females in high school and college sports.
“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. Kansas is an inclusive state and our laws should reflect our values. This law does not do that,” Kelly said in a statement.
Kelly made the case that the bill could harm children and eliminate job opportunities in Kansas. “I’ve made it clear that the last thing that we need to be doing in the state of Kansas is implementing regressive policy that just turns businesses away from our state and kills jobs,” Kelly said.
The ACLU of Kansas has threatened litigation if the bill is introduced. In the bill’s fiscal note, the Kansas Attorney General’s office wrote that such a lawsuit would incur great cost for the state.
“It’s not surprising but nonetheless disappointing that Governor Kelly opted to veto the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act and capitulate to the mistruths and extreme rhetoric offered by the left,” Republican state Senators Ty Masterson and Renee Erickson said in a statement.
The bill’s proponents have characterized the pressure imposed by organizations like the NCAA as corporate bullying.
“It’s not about anything else other than (fairness), and no state should allow itself to be intimidated by big corporations or the NCAA into pretending otherwise,” Masterson and Erickson said in a statement.
“Republicans in the Kansas Senate will not cower in the face of such intimidation and inflammatory rhetoric. We will not back down in defense of fairness in women’s sports. We will not sell out decades of progress by women for a few days of a basketball tournament,” their statement continued.
Kansas is one of 31 states where legislation barring transgender youth from playing in girl’s and women’s sports has been proposed. In order to override Kelly’s veto, Republicans in the Kansas legislature will need eleven additional “yes” votes in the House and one in the Senate.