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Kansas’s Laura Kelly is the 4th governor this year to veto a trans sports ban

Topeka, Kansas - January 14, 2019: Democrat Governor Laura Kelly delivers her inaugural speech is front of the steps of the Kansas State Capitol building
Topeka, Kansas - January 14, 2019: Democrat Governor Laura Kelly delivers her inaugural speech is front of the steps of the Kansas State Capitol buildingPhoto: Shutterstock

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D) has become the fourth governor this year to veto a transgender sports ban.

Earlier this month, the Kansas legislature passed S.B. 160, a bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in school sports as their gender. The bill does not similarly restrict transgender boys.

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The bill also doesn’t specify how sex will be determined, leaving it to school districts to decide how they will see who is transgender and who is cisgender. If they fail, the bill allows for school districts to be sued by students or other districts.

But this past Friday, Gov. Kelley rejected S.B. 160.

“Both Republican and Democratic Governors have joined me in vetoing similar divisive bills for the same reasons: it’s harmful to students and their families and it’s bad for business,” she wrote in a statement.

“We all want a fair and safe space for our kids to play and compete. However, this bill didn’t come from the experts at our schools, our athletes or the Kansas State High School Activities Association. It came from politicians trying to score political points.”

This isn’t the first time she has vetoed a transgender sports ban. She vetoed a similar bill almost exactly a year ago, saying that it “might exacerbate some of the mental health issues that we’re already seeing,” referring to high rates of depression and suicidal thoughts among LGBTQ youth that will potentially be exacerbated by such policies.

And she’s not alone this year. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R), Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), and Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) have all vetoed transgender sports bans this year.

The Utah legislature overrode Cox’s veto and the Kentucky legislature overrode Beshear’s veto. Holcomb’s and Kelly’s vetoes have not yet been overridden.

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