Kansas right pushing back more aggressively on LGBTQ rights

Jan 10, 2023, 12:43 AM | Updated: 3:08 pm
Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, right, R-Andover, speaks during a news conference for announc...

Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson, right, R-Andover, speaks during a news conference for announcing Republican legislative leaders' agenda for the year, with House Speaker Dan Hawkins, left, watching, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Masterson wants to pursue restrictions on how public schools handle human sexuality issues and fellow conservatives are pushing back more aggressively this year on LGBTQ-rights issues. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Conservative Kansas legislators are pushing back more aggressively this year on LGBTQ-rights issues than in the past two years, with proposals to ban gender-affirming care for trangender youth and restrict how public schools discuss sexual orientation and gender identity.

Top Republican lawmakers on Tuesday outlined an agenda for the year that includes culture war issues pursued by Republicans in other states, including a ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s K-12, club and college sports. Their broader agenda on LGBTQ-rights issues this year in Kansas also comes after Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly narrowly won reelection in November despite GOP attacks over her vetoes of two bills restricting transgender athletes.

On LGBTQ-rights issues, the Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature focused in 2021 and 2022 on trangender athletes. Lawmakers haven’t considered a ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth or bills to restrict which bathrooms transgender people can use. Proposals on what schools teach on history and sexuality have not gone as far as a Florida law derided by critics as a “Don’t Say Gay” policy.

State Rep. Heather Meyer, a bisexual Kansas City-area Democrat with a transgender son, said this year, for GOP lawmakers, “It sounds like that the bigots are the priority, not our children.”

“They want to make it so that it’s like we never existed, so like the LGBTQ community is invisible,” she said.

Top Republican lawmakers pledged to keep pushing for a laws restricting transgender athletes. Eighteen states have such laws, including Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the nonprofit, pro-LGBTQ-rights Movement Advancement Project think tank.

Supporters of such laws argue that they preserve fairness in competition and college scholarship opportunities for what they call “biological” women.

As Kelly ran for reelection, her campaign said she believes decisions about transgender athletes should be made by schools, doctors, families and local officials. That statement came after she declared in a television ad that, “Of course men should not play girls’ sports. OK, we all agree there.”

Two of the Legislature’s most conservative Republicans, state Sens. Mark Steffen, from south-central Kansas, and Mike Thompson, from the Kansas City area, introduced a bill that would make it illegal to perform gender-affirming surgery or provide hormone therapy or puberty-blocking medications to anyone under 21. Doctors would face having their medical licenses suspended or revoked for “professional incompetency.”

Arkansas bans such care for minors; Alabama makes it a felony, and Arizona bans gender-affirming surgery for minors. Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order last year treating gender-affirming care as child abuse. Proposals have been introduced in at least 10 other states.

“It’s a way of trying to protect these children from what could be life-altering and irreversible types of medical and chemical procedures,” Thompson told reporters after his bill was introduced.

It’s not clear how much support the measure has, and a hearing has yet to be scheduled. Senate President Ty Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, expressed a willingness to consider the idea.

But Kelly is certain to be a big obstacle to such a policy. Asked about the proposal, Kelly told reporters Tuesday, “You can just imagine what I think of that.”

State Rep. Brandon Woodard, a gay Kansas City-area Democrat, called the measure “a garbage bill.”

“Gender-affirming care is live-saving and this bill is dangerous, hateful and will lead to death by suicide,” he said.

During a Statehouse news conference for introducing GOP leaders’ agenda, Masterson decried what he called a “sexualized, woke agenda” in public schools. Later, he told reporters that he wants to pursue a law that would spell out limits on what schools can teach or discuss about sexuality issues by grade level.

Masterson said he’s worried about schools focusing on people’s “innate characteristics” and “dividing us up into different groups.”

“We’ve gotten completely away from, basically, fundamental academics,” he said. “And it’s not helping our children.”

But state Rep. Susan Ruiz, a lesbian Kansas City-area Democrat, said the “radical right” is creating the problems.

“These are just kids who are trying to understand themselves,” she said. “They are coming after children who are vulnerable.”

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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

AP

President Joe Biden talks with Vice President Kamala Harris after the State of the Union address to...
Associated Press

Biden makes Wisconsin his 1st stop after State of the Union

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday was headed to Wisconsin, a battleground state he won by the slimmest of margins in 2020, to press his economic message and other themes from his State of the Union address in the window before his next big speech: announcing a possible reelection bid. Biden was set […]
1 day ago
FILE - People walk amongst the debris at the crash site of a passenger plane near the village of Gr...
Associated Press

International team to present update on MH17 investigation

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — An international team is presenting an update Wednesday on its investigation into the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The announcement comes nearly three months after a Dutch court convicted two Russians and a Ukrainian rebel for their roles in shooting down the Boeing 777 and […]
1 day ago
President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the U...
Associated Press

China says it was smeared in Biden State of the Union speech

BEIJING (AP) — China says it was smeared in U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address that repeatedly mentioned competition between the two countries. China does not fear competing with the U.S. but is “opposed to defining the entire China-U.S. relationship in terms of competition,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a […]
1 day ago
FILE - A sign is shown on a Google building at their campus in Mountain View, Calif., Sept. 24, 201...
Associated Press

Google hopes ‘Bard’ will outsmart ChatGPT, Microsoft in AI

Google is girding for a battle of wits in the field of artificial intelligence with “Bard," a conversational service apparently aimed at countering the popularity of the ChatGPT tool backed by Microsoft.
1 day ago
South Korean Interior and Safety Minister Lee Sang-min arrives to attend a meeting on integrated de...
Associated Press

South Korean lawmakers impeach minister over crowd crush

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s opposition-controlled parliament on Wednesday voted to impeach the country’s interior and safety minister, Lee Sang-min, holding him responsible for government failures in disaster planning and the response that likely contributed to the high death toll in a crowd crush that killed nearly 160 people in October. The impeachment […]
1 day ago
A sign stands on a quiet day in what used to be AmericaÅfs largest overseas naval base at the Subi...
Associated Press

US forces returning to Philippines to counter China threats

SUBIC BAY, Philippines (AP) — Once-secret ammunition bunkers and barracks lay abandoned, empty and overrun by weeds — vestiges of American firepower in what used to be the United States’ largest overseas naval base at Subic Bay in the northern Philippines. But that may change in the near future. The U.S. has been taking steps […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Kansas right pushing back more aggressively on LGBTQ rights