Kansas Senate approves anti-transgender sports bans

OPPORTUNITY – Yesterday, the Kansas Senate passed Senate Bill 484, a law that would prevent transgender students from participating in school sports that match their gender identities, from the elementary to the college level. The Kansas Senate last week passed Senate Bill 208, another anti-transportation ban. Both bills are now in the House of Representatives and awaiting a hearing.

Utah Governor Spencer Cox and Indiana government Eric Holcomb both vetoed similar bills in their states this week, overturning discriminatory anti-transgender sports bans passed by their state legislatures. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly vetoed Senate Bill 55, a bill nearly identical to SB 484 and SB 208, after lawmakers passed it last year. Bills like this and the inflammatory, abusive language surrounding them are adversely affecting Kansas’s vulnerable LGBTQ+ population, who are already three times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly twice as likely to have anxiety as non-LGBTQ+ Kansans.

Legislative director and senior adviser to the human rights campaign, Cathryn Oakley, released the following statement in response to the Kansas Senate’s approval of SB 484 and SB 208:

“Transgender students are children – children who, like their classmates, deserve the opportunity to experience the benefits of participating in school sports. SB 484 and SB 208 are regressive and harmful legislation that hurts vulnerable young people and does not address a real problem. There’s a reason Governor Kelly vetoed the same legislation last year: It’s a crude political ploy by lawmakers seeking to appease national anti-LGBTQ+ forces at the expense of the well-being of transgender youth in Kansas.

In states across the country, transgender children have been playing sports in accordance with their gender identity for years without any problems. They are children who deserve to have fun with their friends, play sports and learn to be part of a team. We call on the Kansas House to decline to participate in this conversation, which is based on misunderstanding, disapproval and discrimination against transgender youth. These kids are just kids, and they should be able to play.”

The latest PRRI data shows support for LGBTQ+ rights in Kansas and across the country is growing with 77% of Kansans in favor of non-discrimination protections and 57% of Kansans against denial of service on religious grounds. About eight in 10 Americans (79%) support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations, and housing. This reflects an 11% increase in the proportion of Americans who support non-discrimination protection since 2015 (71%).

A record number of anti-transgender laws were introduced in 2021, largely aimed at denying transgender youth the opportunity to receive gender-affirming care and participate in school athletic programs. Even more anti-transgender legislation is on track to be introduced in 2022. More than 320 anti-LGBTQ+ laws are pending with state legislators across the country. Of these, at least 130 target transgender people directly, and about half of those (70+ bills) would ban trans youth from participating in school sports in line with their gender identity.

Caught in the crosshairs of the divisive political strategy of anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials are children simply trying to navigate their adolescence. Transgender youth, like all youth, benefit from participating in school athletics: leadership opportunities, better physical and mental health outcomes, self-discipline, confidence, teamwork and, of course, fun – and they should not be prevented from participating in school athletics because of who they are.

Even if anti-transgender legislation does not become law, politicians will be responsible for the damage they cause to the well-being of LGBTQ+ people simply by being subjected to constant legal attacks on their dignity and humanity. As we saw last month, discrimination against LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender youth, has real implications.

Anti-transgender attacks as a political topic

Lawmakers in a record 34 states passed 147 anti-transgender laws by 2021, focusing on discriminatory anti-equality measures to drive a wedge between their voters and score short-term political points. In 2021, lawmakers in 12 states passed anti-LGBTQ+ laws, despite not providing examples of exactly what they were legitimizing against.

Just enacting anti-transgender laws and venting anti-transgender rhetoric has already had a damaging impact, leading to LGBTQ+ youth resources being covertly removed from a government website, 11-year-old kids literally having sleep problems, and a school district graphic. novels featuring a transgender character after a parent’s complaint. 2021 and 2020 were the deadliest and second-deadliest years on record for trans and gender nonconformists respectively, with the Human Rights Campaign tracking at least 50 violent deaths in 2021 alone. A new Trevor Project survey shows that as many as 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively impacted by these legislative attacks.

Anti-transgender content on social media is also a radicalizing problem in itself. This is in large part because transgender youth are among the most marginalized, voiceless, and defenseless communities in America, and because right-wing arguments play on long-standing mysoginist, racist, and sexist tropes about gender roles.

Anti-equality forces spend a lot of money

These bills are the result of a concerted effort by right-wing organizations that have been fighting the advancement of LGBTQ+ for years. In the recent election, the American Principles Project (APP) was one of the main anti-equality groups committed to reversing decades of LGBTQ+ progress. APP and its lead endorser Sam Fieler have invested millions of dollars in support of anti-LGBTQ+ candidates. In 2020, APP spent more than $2.6 million on ad spend to support anti-equality candidates. In Virginia, in 2021, APP spent at least $300,000 on digital advertising in support of Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial campaign.

Restoration PAC, run and funded by major anti-LGBTQ+ bankroller Dick Uihlein, spent at least $1.9 million on advertisements across Virginia in support of Youngkin and donated $942,000 to the political wing of anti-abortion group Women Speak Out Virginia. Anti-equality group Free to Learn Action launched a $1 million ad campaign that widely disseminated anti-transgender disinformation in support of Youngkin’s campaign.

Companies, advocacy groups and athletes oppose anti-trans law

Nearly 200 major US corporations have risen and spoken out against anti-transgender laws being proposed in states across the country. Companies such as Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, AT&T, AirBnB, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike and Paypal have objected to these accounts. Four of the largest U.S. food companies also condemned “dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and non-binary people,” and the Walton Family Foundation issued a statement expressing “alarm” about the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas. And more than 60 major corporations joined HRC to urge Texas Governor Abbott and elected officials across the country to halt anti-transgender efforts.

Many rightly protect the legacy of women’s sport in this country, and a robust Title IX is central to that legacy. Importantly, advocates for women and girls in sports — such as the National Women’s Law Center, the Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports, and others — support trans-inclusive policies and oppose efforts to exclude transgender students from participating in sport. So are prominent female athletes, including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe and Cheryl Reeve. That’s because while there are real issues facing women’s sports, including a lack of resources to support them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them.

The leading child health and wellness groups representing more than 7 million youth care professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations have issued an open letter calling on lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills targeting LGBTQ+ people and transgender children. especially.

Nearly 550 college athletes have resisted anti-transgender law by demanding the NCAA pull championships from states that have enacted anti-transsport laws.

Transequality is popular in all demographics

The reality is that as sensational and polarizing as this issue may seem, polls across the country show strong support for trans-inclusive and pro-equality policies:

Recent PRRI data shows that a large majority of Americans (82%) support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing, and a majority of Republicans (67%), independents (85% ) and Democrats (92%) ) support non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.

A PBS/NPR/Marist poll finds that 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose anti-transgender sports-ban laws proliferating in 30 states.

A 10-state poll conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group in 2020 found:

  • At least 60% of Trump voters in each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should be allowed to live freely and openly.

  • At least 87% of respondents in each of the 10 swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, and many states break the 90% support

  • When respondents were asked how they prioritize the importance of banning transgender sports practice over other policy issues, the issue came in last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing the issue.

Another poll by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group found that, with regard to transgender youth participation in sports, the public is strongly in favor of fairness and equality for transgender student athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sport is important in the lives of young people. Young trans people should be given the opportunity to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.”

tThe Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization committed to equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queers. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society, at home, at work and in every community

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