Education Bills Update

Gia Hernandez, Reporter

For the second year in a row, the Kansas legislature is attempting to pass the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” The purpose of the bill is to prevent transgender women from participating in women’s sports on the grounds of having a “physiological advantage.”

After the bill was vetoed last year by Governor Laura Kelly, the senate failed to find the votes to override it.

The transgender sports bill was hotly debated last year with some believing that it would be beneficial for athletes.

 “(The bill is) really about that protection, and that’s what a legislature, that’s what our representative legal system does, it protects the weak,” Senate President Ty Masterson said in an interview with Southeast Journalism last year.

Although some think the bill is a good thing there are also people who believe that it will further alienate an already targeted group.

During an interview last year, Rep. Stephanie Byers, the first transgender representative in the state of Kansas said, “The fact that their fairness in women’s sports doesn’t really include anything to improve the conditions of women’s athletics, but simply targets a small group of people to push them out.”

Gov. Kelly does plan to veto this bill again, and The Senate doesn’t have the votes to override it.

Kansas lawmakers are also attempting to pass Senate Bill 496, otherwise known as the “Parents Bill of Rights.”

This bill would make it possible for parents to challenge, review and reject curriculum or materials in their child’s classroom or school. Parents can challenge things on the basis of being harmful to the child or if it impairs the parent’s beliefs, values or principles.

There are many people who are divided on this issue. 

Some feel like this bill creates a bridge between parents and teachers and gives parents more power in the classroom.

“As an educator I don’t see this as an attack, I see it as placing clearly out there that in Kansas in our schools in our communities these are rights as well as responsibilities for parents and these are rights as well as responsibilities for our schools,” Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Louisburg Republican said.

While others feel as though the bill is an attack on teacher’s judgment, Gov. Kelly called the bill the “teacher demoralization act.”

Governor Kelly vetoed both bills and those vetoes were allowed to stand when the Kansas House failed to reach the necessary votes to overturn them.