The Kansas Senate overrode the state’s Democrat governor this week to enact protections for women’s sports and parents, but the jury is still out on whether the Republican-controlled House will also stand up to keep boys from participating in girls’ athletics in the state’s public schools and universities.
GOP legislators designed the bill specifically to require athletic organizations sponsored by public schools and universities to designate sports teams based on the athletes’ sex. The legislation also includes provisions that allow students who are deprived of opportunities by athletes competing on teams that don’t correspond with their sex to sue in civil court.
The Senate’s decision to keep the bill is a direct rebuke to Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly who vetoed the legislation for a second time two weeks ago on the grounds that it “came from politicians trying to score political points” and not “experts at our schools, our athletes, or the Kansas State High School Activities Association.”
The Senate’s confidence that allowing males to compete on women’s teams creates unfair competitive advantages, however, may not be shared by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
As House Speaker Ron Ryckman noted this week, the lower chamber is still waiting for Republicans to flip or get back to the state capitol to garner enough votes to sustain an override.
“This week we don’t (have the votes), we have members missing,” he said. “We’ll have some time to revisit both of those issues with our members.”
Even Senate President Ty Masterson admitted that he had not discussed an override with House leaders, so he is unsure of the legislation’s future.
“I just hope they are able to stand up for the people like we did,” Masterson said.
The House is also delaying an override vote on a bill that would give Kansas parents the right to review and contest content and curriculum in their children’s classrooms and libraries. The Senate already voted to approve an override after two Republicans flipped in favor of the legislation.
Kelly, who is up for re-election in November, said she vetoed the parents’ rights bill because she believed it was too political.
“Money that should be spent in the classroom would end up being spent in the courtroom,” Kelly said.
Masterson discounted the governor’s opinion and said she is “largely controlled by the hard left.”
“By choosing secrecy over transparency, the governor is indicating she believes parents are the enemy and that schools have a right to hide what they are teaching our children,” he said.