TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Wednesday called a proposal to ban transgender athletes from girls' and women's school sports in Kansas "regressive" and predicted it would hurt the state's ability to recruit businesses.
Kelly stopped short of promising a veto but pointed to a past executive order on LGBTQ rights as signaling her position. A day after taking office in January 2019, Kelly prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in state hiring or employment decisions.
Conservative Republicans in the GOP-controlled Legislature are pushing a bill that would enact the ban, and the Senate expected to take a final vote on it Thursday. Senate approval would send the measure to the House.
"We know from lots of experience in other states that when you implement these kinds of regressive social policies that you significantly decrease the ability to attract businesses here," Kelly said after touring a Topeka childcare center. "Businesses want us to be inclusive."
Supporters argue the bill would preserve fair competition and protect decades of hard-won opportunities for women in sports and other activities.
"It's a very positive step for girls in Kansas," said Brittany Jones, advocacy director for the conservative Family Policy Alliance of Kansas.