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Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly again vetoes bill banning transgender girls from girls’ sports

Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly speaks at in inauguration.
Stephen Koranda
Kansas News Service
Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill banning transgender women from participating in women's sports at public schools. The Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature will likely try to override her.

Gov. Laura Kelly rejecting the bill sets up a showdown with the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature. The original vote on the bill fell two votes shy of a veto-proof majority.

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed a bill banning transgender girls and women from girls’ and women’s sports teams in public schools.

The veto now sets up an override showdown with the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature.

Kelly said she rejected the bill because it would harm the mental health of Kansas students. She also said the Kansas State High School Activities Association already has policies regarding transgender athletes and considers cases on an individual basis.

“Let’s be clear about what this bill is all about – politics,” Kelly said in a news release. “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.”

Republican lawmakers had argued athletes assigned male at birth have a biological advantage when they play on girls’ and women’s teams.

Republican House Speaker Dan Hawkins promised to pursue overriding Kelly’s rejection. He said the bill received broad support from lawmakers and protects the rights of athletes assigned female at birth.

“This is common sense,” Hawkins said in a news release. “Republicans in the House will make every effort to override this veto.”

To override the veto, lawmakers will need to garner a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate.

The billoriginally passed with a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

The House vote remains a question. The bill initially passed two votes shy of the number needed to override a veto, but two Republican lawmakers were absent from the vote.

Kelly has twice vetoed similar bills and both times lawmakers failed to override her.

Dylan Lysen reports on politics for the Kansas News Service. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanLysen or email him at dlysen (at) kcur (dot) org.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to

As the Kansas social services and criminal justice reporter, I want to inform our audience about how the state government wants to help its residents and keep their communities safe. Sometimes that means I follow developments in the Legislature and explain how lawmakers alter laws and services of the state government. Other times, it means questioning the effectiveness of state programs and law enforcement methods. And most importantly, it includes making sure the voices of everyday Kansans are heard. You can reach me at, 816-235-8027 or on Threads, @DylanLysen.