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Kansas Democrats prove incapable of stopping Republican bills barring men from playing women's sports, letting parents opt kids out of LGBT lessons

Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Kansas' Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly proved unable to kill one anti-woke bill this week and will soon have another on her desk that she may similarly be powerless to stop.

Republicans successfully overrode Kelly's veto of "The Fairness in Women's Sports Act" (HB 2238) Wednesday, meaning that as of July 1, women's student athletic teams can only include members who are biologically female.

The second piece of legislation that Kelly may impotently seek to veto is HB 2236, which would establish "parents' right to direct the education and upbringing of their children including the right to object educational materials and activities that are not included in approved curriculum or standards or impair a parent's beliefs, values or principles."

No boys allowed

HB 2238 requires that interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club athletic teams or sports at virtually all public and private schools in the state must be expressly designated for males, men, or boys; females, women, or girls; or coed or mixed.

The legislation explicitly bars boys and men from participating in girls' and women's athletics.

Kelly vetoed this legislation on March 17, saying that it was all about politics.

"It won’t increase any test scores. It won’t help any kids read or write. It won’t help any teachers prepare our kids for the real world. Here’s what this bill would actually do: harm the mental health of our students," Kelly said in a letter explaining her decision.

Kansas Republicans handily overrode the Democratic governor's unilateral action with a 84-40 vote in the House and a 28-12 vote in the Senate, thereby bypassing Kelly.

House Speaker Dan Hawkins (R), Republican Majority Leader Chris Croft, and Speaker Pro Tem Blake Carpenter said in a joint statement, "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. 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," they added.

Some state Democrats didn't take the loss well.

Democratic Reps. Heather Meyer and Susan Ruiz reportedly began screaming hysterically at their peers for having executed the will of the people and bypassed the governor's veto.

After Democratic efforts at legislative obstructionism failed, Meyer tweeted, "Just sitting here at my floor desk in tears as my colleagues go to the well to fight for kids like my own The attacks on trans youth must stop. Our kids are not political pawns in your culture war. They deserve to live their lives as fully as cisgender kids."

Gov. Kelly told reporters, "It sort of breaks my heart. It certainly is disappointing. I know that there are some legislators for whom this was a very, very hard vote, one that I think that they will regret as they look back on their time in the legislature."

Extracurricular propaganda will be optional

Following the successful override, the Republican-controlled House passed HB 2236 on Thursday with a 76-46 vote. The bill had passed in the Senate last week with a 23-17 vote. The bill will now go to Kelly for ratification. If she similarly vetoes this legislation, Republicans may seek to double down and bypass her once again.

WDAF-TV reported that Kelly has a few weeks to decide on whether to veto the bill.

The bill states, "Every parent of a child in this state has a right to direct the education, upbringing and moral or religious training of such child."

Accordingly, parents can object to educational material or activities that are not included in the approved district curriculum or state educational standards and to "withdraw such student from the class or educational program in which the material or activity is being provided."

The legislation makes clear that withdrawal cannot be penalized and the withdrawn student's academic records cannot be adversely impacted.

Rep. Susan Estes, the Wichita Republican who advanced the bill, said, "When I as a parent have had objections and gone to the teachers of my children, they’ve been happy to give us an alternative assignment, but what we heard in committee were parents who not only went to their teacher … they went to their principal and higher up in the school district … and did not have their concerns addressed and did not have alternative assignments that could be offered."

"If there is one family who are denied their rights, we need to address it," added Estes.

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