Kansas has joined the growing list of states that have had lawmakers propose legislation requiring transgender athletes to compete on teams based on their biological gender at birth.
Republican Rep. Michael Capps’ proposal hasn’t been formally introduced, but LGBTQ rights advocates have already begun to denounce it, according to the Hays Post. Equality Kansas provided a draft of Capps’ proposal during Thursday’s news conference alongside Kansas’ two openly LGBTQ legislators – Democratic Reps. Brandon Woodard and Susan Ruiz.
“All across the country, the anti-LGBT bills, they’re picking on little kids,” Equality Kansas executive director Tom Witt said Thursday, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. “That’s what we have here in this bill. We have grown men who should know better targeting juveniles for bigoted and hateful legislation. We’re tired of it.”
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Capps said the released draft isn’t final and the Girls Athletic Protection Act would ensure fair competition in high school athletics.
“The bill isn’t any kind of attack on the LGBTQ community but a bill to protect biological girls who want fair competition in sports,” Capps said. “The GAP Act is meant to maintain fairness in competition. This issue has begun to cause national controversy, and as a state we should be proactive to avoid controversy down the road.”
The Kansas State High School Activities Association addressed transgender athletes in 2014, adopting a policy that said transgender athletes would compete against the gender they identify with. Any disputes would go to the KSHSAA for final rulings.
“Clearly, if the draft is ultimately approved as proposed, the language would nullify the existing policy,” Bill Faflick, executive director of KSHSAA, told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “At the time the existing policy was drafted and approved, it appropriately reflected desires of the membership. We have not heard of concerns relative to current policy.”
Witt said that local policies are the way to go, because the adults making the decisions care for the individual.
“Every (local school) district handles this in a way that suits their community,” Witt said. “Schools are run by adults who care for the kids who are in their charge, who aren't trying to make examples of them, who aren't trying to attack them.”
The Equality Kansas representatives argued that the Kansas Legislature should expand anti-discrimination laws to prohibit anti-LGBTQ bias in employment, housing and public accommodations, as well as banning “conversion therapy” in minors.
“It feels like there’s an undertone to it that females are not good enough at athletics,” Ruiz said, “There’s all kinds of myths around transgender athletes, and for me it also feels like this is a way to kind of keep women down and keep them not competing against men. And we’re seeing both kinds of barriers taken down all the time.”