Kan. lawmaker's proposed bill spurs debate on transgender youth in sports

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) and WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) A conservative legislator in Kansas is pursuing a proposal to prevent transgender high school and middle school students from playing on sports teams aligned with their gender identities.

LGBTQ rights advocates are trying to kill it even before he can formally introduce it.

The LGBTQ rights group Equality Kansas had a Statehouse news conference Thursday to denounce the proposal from Republican Rep. Michael Capps, of Wichita.

Capps told reporters that his goal is “athletic protection for girls.” But Kansas City-area Democratic Rep. Brandon Woodard called the bill “repugnant” and said, “Bills like this are why young LGBTQ kids die by suicide."

This is a debate that has been ongoing between LGBTQ advocates and some lawmakers across the country. The claim is that "biological girls" and "biological boys" are different when it comes to athletics.

"This is a bill not designed to attack on anybody. It's designed to create equality for biological girls who want to compete with other biological girls," Capps says. "At the end of the day, there is a difference between boys and girls."

A local representative for GLSEN, an education organization "working to end discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression," says the debate is not that simple.

"I think there's a real misunderstanding of what trans girls and trans boys go through and what requirements they need to go through to be able to play sports," says LGBTQ advocate Liz Hamor, chapter director of GLSEN Kansas.

When it comes to whether a student in middle school or high school should be allowed to play on sports teams aligned with their gender identity. Hamor says there are many other factors beyond an athlete's gender assigned at birth.

"Students take hormone blockers, a lot of puberty blockers, which means they don't always go through the puberty that is of their gender that they were assigned at birth," Hamor says.

Capps recognizes that having transgender students play on a sports team aligned with their gender identity hasn't been a major issue in Kansas, but he says he wants to be proactive and be proactive to keep a level playing field for athletes competing in girls' sports.

On behalf of GLSEN, Hamor says Capps' bill would only create more barriers.

“This bill would create more barriers for transgender students to experience a well-rounded education," she says."Like all students, transgender students deserve to participate in all the activities and athletics a school has to offer. We need legislation that will help
protect the most vulnerable, bullied, and harassed students, not legislation that spreads harmful bias and misunderstandings."

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

2/6/2020 11:24:00 AM (GMT -6:00)