Kansas Legislature overrides governor’s veto, enacting bill protecting girls’ and women’s sports

The Kansas Legislature voted Wednesday to override Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of a ban on transgendered athletes competing in women’s sports.

The bill, called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” restricts competition in school sports according to biological sex, although there are provisions for coeducational sports matches.

Kansas City Democrat Rep. Marvin Robinson’s vote gave majority Republicans the necessary 84-40 margin to override the governor’s veto. The Senate quickly followed with a successful 28-12 override vote, enacting the law.

It was the third time Kelly had vetoed such a bill, The Kansas City Star reported when the vote first passed. But it is the first time the veto was successfully overridden by either chamber of the legislature.

“The Fairness in Women’s Sports act protects the rights of female athletes in the state by requiring that female student athletic teams only include members who are biologically female,” GOP Speaker of the House Dan Hawkins said in a statement. “House Republicans are united in our commitment to defending the intention of Title IX.

“We proudly stand with the female athletes across Kansas in their pursuit of athletic awards, opportunities, and scholarships and believe they deserve every chance at success afforded to their male counterparts.”

Opponents of the bill said the ban would drive up teen suicide rates, even though such claims lack evidence.

Two Republicans in the House voted against the override: Reps. Mark Schreiber of Emporia and David Younger of Ulysses.

Still, the final arbiter for the ban may be the federal courts.

While a federal judge in West Virginia initially upheld a similar ban in that state, an appeals court judge blocked the ban from being enforced while the matter is litigated, according to Bloomberg News, which also notes that a similar lawsuit appealing a transgender bathroom ban in Florida was unsuccessful.

In Kansas, the fight over transgender participation in athletics foreshadows the coming fight over a transgender bathroom ban, which is likely next on the legislative agenda, said The Capital-Journal.

Gov. Kelly will again be expected to veto the measure.

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