Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a
Democrat, on Thursday vetoed a bill that seeks to prohibit
transgender women and girls from participating on sports teams.
In announcing her veto, Kelly called
Senate Bill 55 “divisive” and harmful to Kansas' economy.
“This legislation sends a devastating
message that Kansas is not welcoming to all children and their
families, including those who are transgender – who are already at
a higher risk of bullying, discrimination and suicide,” Kelly said.
“As Kansans, we should be focused on
how to include all students in extracurricular activities, rather
than how to exclude those who may be different than us. Kansas is an
inclusive state and our laws should reflect our values. This law does
not do that.”
“This bill would also undoubtedly
harm our ability to attract and retain businesses. It would send a
signal to prospective companies that Kansas is more focused on
unnecessary and divisive legislation, than strategic, pro-growth
lawmaking,” she said.
The veto comes a day after North
Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill.
According to The Human Rights Campaign
(HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, 66 similar bills
have been introduced in legislatures across the country.
“Governor Kelly’s veto is a win for
Kansas,” HRC President Alphonso David said in a statement. “The
Human Rights Campaign is grateful for the governor’s support of
transgender Kansans, and we look forward to continued partnership
with her administration to ensure that the state legislature honors
and protects the dignity of LGBTQ people. SB 55 was nothing more than
a politically motivated bill that seeks to dehumanize transgender
“The Kansas state legislature must
uphold the veto and shift its legislative priorities to critical
matters that legitimately impact the state. Transgender children are
not seeking to gain an unfair competitive advantage. They are just
children who want the opportunity to learn important skills of
sportsmanship, competition, and teamwork with their peers,” he