Find Bill
Find Your Legislator
Legislative Deadlines
March 21, 2023
RSS Feed Permanent URL -A +A

Minutes for SB208 - Committee on Education

Short Title

Creating the fairness in women's sports act to require that female student athletic teams only include members who are biologically female.

Minutes Content for Tue, Feb 23, 2021

Chairperson Baumgardner explained the procedures that will be followed during this hearing.

Jason Long, Assistant Revisor, Office of the Revisor of Statute, gave a brief overview of the bill. (Attachment 1)

Proponent Testimony:

Senator Renee Erickson, District 30, Kansas Senate, spoke as a proponent of this bill. Because she was offered numerous athletic scholarships, she was the first person in her family to graduate from college. Basketball taught her self-discipline, teamwork, gave her leadership opportunities, lifelong friends and kept her out of trouble.

This bill's sole purpose is to protect the opportunities that she had by ensuring only biological females compete in girls' sports because every female athlete deserves a fair playing field. The definition of fair includes, "in accordance with the rules or standards; legitimate," and "without cheating or trying to achieve an unjust advantage." Allowing biological males to compete against females is the epitome of an unjust advantage. At the last Kansas High School state track meet in 2019, 50 boys clocked a time faster than the all-time record for girls in the 3200m.

KSHSAA set different qualifying standards for the state swim meet for boys and girls. This year alone, each of top 50 boys beat the longest standing record in girls swimming set in 1998.

I watch my 5-year-old granddaughter play basketball. It's hard to imagine that 35 years after I walked off the court for the last time that my granddaughter may not have the same opportunities. I urge the Committee Members to do the right thing. Follow the science, follow common sense. Support Fairness for Women. Support SB208. (Attachment 2)

Idaho Representative Barbara Ehardt, who authored and sponsored the first of its kind legislation that protects opportunities for girls and women in sports supports this bill. Women deserve the opportunity to pursue their dreams and excel in athletic opportunities. Forcing females to compete against biological males will continue to remove opportunities to compete, learn, and grow as males continue to be able to do.

According to Representative Ehardt, "Women have fought too long and too hard to earn equal athletic opportunities. Title IX happened in 1972 and opportunities in sports began to occur for females but it has been a process. Let's make sure we don't go backwards. We need to preserve these hard fought for opportunities in girls and women's sports which is the point of this legislation."

Title IX was designed to eliminate discrimination against girls and women in education and athletics, while creating equal opportunities for girls and women. Males have enjoyed the many benefits that come from participating in sports, everything from leadership, confidence, cooperation, conflict resolution and so much more. Females deserve this too. If we allow transgender women to compete on a collegiate women's sports team, that will force teams at other schools to change their recruiting practice and seek transgender players of their own in order to remain competitive.

One biological boy wanting to play on a girl's team would most likely be replacing the worst girl on the team and would displace the leading scorer, rebounder, or MVP on the team. But it doesn't stop there. Every team they play against is also now displaced as how they might have competed is changed. If you allow one biological male, you have to be willing to allow 12 biological males to make the team if 12 tryout.

"Is this the road Kansas wants to venture down? There will be lawsuits as parents and girls will be suing when boys and men take their daughters' spots. I believe women should have a fair playing field and that we should be allowed to preserve our history and to enjoy the many benefits that come from participating in sports" stated Representative Ehardt. (Attachment 3)

Barbara Saldivar, State Director of Concerned Women for America (CWA) of Kansas, heartily supports this bill. Female athletics are a pathway to development, opportunity, and success for girls and women in America. When male-born athletes are permitted in women's sports as transwomen, female-born athletes will lose hard-fought opportunities which came about through the feminist movement in the implementation of Title IX.

Physiological distinctions between the sexes also matter in protecting equal opportunity and a fair playing field. Exercise physiology expert Dr. Gregory A. Brown of the University of Nebraska concludes that men and adolescent boys perform better in almost all sports than women and adolescent girls because of their inherent physiological advantages that develops during male puberty.

I urge the Committee to support the victories of the women's movement, which opened the doors for women to compete on a level playing field, acknowledge biological science, and preserve women's sports by voting yes on SB208. (Attachment 4)

Brittany Jones, Director of Advocacy for Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, gave the background of Title IX and reported that on President Biden's first day in office, he signed an Executive Order that clearly was intended to threaten these hard won victories by requiring that women's athletic opportunities be open to biological boys. KSHSHA has provided schools with guidance documents and has admitted that there are 5 athletes that are taking advantage of their guidance policy.

Despite Title IX's history of advancing opportunities for females, this current trend exploits Title IX to do just the opposite - letting biological males steal opportunities reserved for girls. It has an immediate impact on their ability to win competitions. When it comes to sports, we have always recognized there is an inherent difference between boys and girls especially after puberty. This has serious psychological consequences on women and girls competing now.

In the long run, it denies women and girls scholarship opportunities. For some, athletic scholarships are the only way out of poverty and into a better life. Further, sports play a crucial role in the development of young people by helping them build character, learn the value of hard work, learn discipline, and how to compete well.

The Fairness in Women's Sports Act has been introduced in 20 states this session and ensures the intent of Title IX and the amazing benefits it has provided to women across our state and country continue to be available for the next generation of women. (Attachment 5)

Jessica Steffen told of being the only student at Yale University from Kansas and her ability to shoot a basketball from anywhere on the court was what got her there. That ability was honed playing countless pick-up games at the local YMCA where there was not another girl on the court. The boys were bigger, stronger, and faster than her so she adapted to the fact that she could not compete with them physically but could shoot over the top of them. When she competed against other girls in school, she was able to dominate.

She realized as a Freshman she would not create a career out of basketball but turned it into the world's best education. She was able to do so because of generations of women who came before her, who fought tirelessly for Title IX. If we don't make a conscious decision here in Kansas to preserve those opportunities for young women, they will be taken away.

She was here out of respect for the women who came before her and the girls younger than her, to help ensure they have the same opportunity she did. (Attachment 6)

Callie Hicks testified regarding her experiences as a Lawrence Free State's Scholar Athlete of the Year, a part of a state championship-winning gymnastics team and was awarded the Merlin Gish Scholarship at the Shawnee Mission North Relays. She thrived off the lifestyle of hard work and determination and dearly loved the community of friends that high school sports gave her. Her dedication to athletics required will-power, a keen sense of time-management, and the ability to communicate with teachers, coaches, and trainers.

These lessons propelled her to succeed further at the D1 level for the University of Kansas. As a college athlete, she was able to live out her dream of working with one of the most talented pole vault coaches in the nation while receiving a stellar education from KU's School of Business.

She wants fairness in sports for her colleagues and teammates who continue to compete collegiately and for these young girls just beginning their athletic journeys and developing their competitive spirits. Data from the current college indoor track season confirms men are stronger and faster than women across all events. Letting biological males compete as women in women's sports is the demise of a level-playing field for women who deserve just as fair a chance to compete for 1st place as men do. (Attachment 7)

Natasha Chart, Executive Director, Women's Liberation Front, strongly supports this bill because of the positive impact it will have on maintaining social and educational gains for women and girls in Kansas through sports. In addition to the physical health benefits of an active lifestyle, participation in sports among girls has been shown to increase academic success, boost self-esteem and confidence, lead to lower rates of teen pregnancy and help women achieve long-term in their careers.

Males and females are biologically different. These changes are not fully reversed with the lowering of testosterone levels or other forms of medical transition, and no child should be pushed to use endocrine-disrupting drugs to participate in sports.

Other states have already passed similar laws protecting women's and girl's sports and national polling suggests that such policies are supported by a bipartisan majority. The public knows that mixed-sex sports wouldn't be fair. (Attachment 8)(Attachment 9)

Beth Stelzer, Founder of Save Women's Sports, told her story of being an amateur powerlifter and preparing to compete. However, activists sullied the day of the contest and disrupted all the events because a male was not allowed to compete in the women's championships. In powerlifting, the male competitive advantage crests at over 30 percent. When half a kilogram can determine the winner, this type of advantage is huge!

Fairness, privacy, and safety for females must be insured and protected. I would never have bothered to even start my fitness journey if I'd have had to compete against males. There would have been no point.

Many women have been directly harmed by males who took championships, destroyed long-standing records, and denied women the rewards of years of hard work. Male participation in female sports is a growing problem across the world. We should not sit back and wait until one of them is seriously injured to do something.

Ms. Stelzer added, "This is not an anti-trans bill. This bill is to protect females." (Attachment 10)

Caroline Bruce McAndrews, a member of the 2004 US Olympic Swim team, told the Committee about her experiences as a swimmer. Her career gave her opportunity to travel the world, be a student at Stanford University, the ability to believe in herself, to set goals and do everything within her means to pursue them. She is grateful for everything the sport gave her and looks forward to the opportunity to share her love of sports with her kids as they begin to explore their own love of sports and chase their dreams. (Attachment 11)

Matt Sharp, Senior Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom, stated women deserve to compete on a level playing field. Allowing males to compete in women's sports destroys fair competition and women's athletic opportunities.

Biological sex is indisputably the single biggest driver of athletic advantage. Males generally have a 10-20% performance advantage (depending on the sport) over females. Having separate teams for men and women is the time-tested way to ensure that women have the opportunity to showcase their talents and become champions.

We are seeing a growing number of instances where biological males have taken away championships, records, and countless athletic opportunities from female athletes.

Policies like those advocated by the International Olympics Committee that allow a male to compete in female events if the male has been on testosterone suppression for a certain period of time do not solve the problem. Studies have shown that "superior anthropometric muscle mass and strength parameters achieved by males at puberty, and underpinning a considerable portion of the male performance advantage over females are not removed by the current regimen of testosterone suppression.

SB208 does not conflict with any current eligibility requirements set by the NCAA regarding students who identify as transgender. SB208 is consistent with both the U.S. Constitution and federal law, including Title IX. Federal courts have long recognized that it is constitutional to provide separate programs based on biological sex including sports, teams, locker rooms, or even single-sex schools.

In sports, biology is what matters. When we ignore science and biological reality, women pay the price. (Attachment 12)

Written proponent testimony was submitted by:

Vajra Ma, Chair, Women's Human Rights Campaign USA (Attachment 13)

Ann Harms (Attachment 14)

Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell, and Alanna Smith (Attachment 15)

Dr. DeAnna Marshall, (Attachment 16)

Dr. Sheryl Beard, MD (Attachment 17)

Jeanette Pryor, Policy Specialist, Kansas Catholic Conference. (Attachment 18)

Opponent Testimony:

Representative Stephanie Byers, District 86, Kansas House of Representatives, rose in opposition to this bill and told of her heritage as a Native American and legislation she is opposed to.

Trans kids thrive when their identity is affirmed, but it is not always an easy path. Affirmation counters exterior forces and helps relieve the anxiety and depression that leads to suicide. It is a tremendous feeling to no longer be invisible and to be seen for who you truly are. (Attachment 19)

Allie Fennell said as a non-transgender high school athlete, she would like to see sports remain a safe space for all people, including transgender youth. "Keeping their right to play on the teams and in the sports that support them is encouraged by the very people you claim to be protecting. I am not afraid to compete with or against a transgender female. All girls should be allowed to participate in the sports they excel at, without fear of being demanded to prove their sex." (Attachment 20)

Ryann Brooks, News and Online Editor, Emporia Gazette, included in her testimony an opinion column entitled "Let the Kids Play" which was written in response to a previous column which used harmful sterotypes to justify why transgender student-athletes should be barred from gender-appropriate team sports. She hopes this piece answers questions and eases concerns. (Attachment 21)

Tom Witt, Executive Director, Equality Kansas, stood in opposition saying this bill is bullying in the form of legislation targeting kids in public schools. This bill only serves to isolate and target vulnerable kids. Enacting the provisions of SB208 is the equivalent of taping a "KICK ME" note to the back of every transgender student in Kansas. You will not be protecting anyone with this legislation. Instead, you will be opening the door to more bullying, more harassment, and more self-harm. (Attachment 22)

Kendall Hawkins, Policy Coordinator, GLSEN Kansas, stated fostering a welcoming school climate is one of the most important tasks for educators to ensure a positive learning environment for every child. For many Kansas LGBTQ students, schools are not as safe or inclusive as they should be. This legislation ignores the foundational concept of education. If we want ALL students to feel safe enough to be able to grow and prosper in our schools, we need policies that protect them and support all their needs, not proposals that will harm them by excluding them from opportunities that create more positive academic, social, emotional, and psychological outcomes for them. Legislation such as this bill escalates hostilities towards transgender individuals in our schools and communities and amplifies the negative effects they already experience.

A recent survey reports 52% of transgender and non-binary students reported having seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months and over 90% of LGBHTQ youth said that recent politics negatively influenced their well-being.

It is widely known that participation in athletic activities is beneficial to all students. The positive academic outcomes related to transgender student participation in athletics on teams consistent with their gender identity also must not be ignored. (Attachment 23)

Jeff Freund related his experience growing up as a multi-racial kid, knowing he was different. As an educator of over two decades, he has seen children become more tolerant, while adults and leaders have seemed to grow more divisive. As a Kansas Principal with over a decade of experience, he can say this bill will hurt kids. It will force undue shame and despair on an already vulnerable group.

A separate but equal league for our transgender youth is wrong. Forcing students into locker rooms to face ridicule is wrong.

Our students are looking to US as leaders. (Attachment 24)

Mark Desetti, Legislative and Political Advocacy, Kansas National Education Association (KNEA), said the KNEA believes the regulation of school sports programs belongs to the Kansas State High School Association. (KSHSAA). KNEA opposes discrimination in all areas of life on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, creed, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Such discrimination is detrimental to society, creates unfair and unjust divisions, and leads to bullying, anger, depression, anxiety, and other negative mental health impacts.

Social attitudes change and it is incumbent upon those of us who still wish the world was the same as it was when we were in high school to find a way to accept and adapt to societal changes, even those with which we may personally be uncomfortable. Schools were once segregated, interracial and same-sex marriages were once illegal, and homosexuals were once institutionalized and even imprisoned. We now accept these changes. Before Title IX, people did not think that women should be competing in team sports in our schools. Times changed. Women are proving every day that they can compete with men.

SB208 is a solution to a problem that exists only in the attitudes of those who can't comprehend or accept the changes that society is now going through. Today's young people will lead the way. We should let them do it. (Attachment 25)

Kyle C. Velte, Associate Professor, University of Kansas School of Law, vigorously opposes this bill. Transgender and cisgender youth participate in sports for the same reasons, such as maintaining physical fitness, meeting the physical and mental challenges presented by sports, gaining life skills (leadership, compromise, resilience, teamwork work ethic), experiencing the mutual camaraderie that is unique to sports teams and maintaining mental health.

This bill is misinformed as a matter of psychology and medicine, unlawful under established law, misguided as a matter of public policy, and harmful to the most vulnerable among our Kansan youth.

The underlying premise of the bill is that transgender girls will have a competitive advantage that is unfair to cisgender girls. This is faulty and is based on stereotypes and bias. This bill also rests on the flawed conception that transgender girls are not "real" girls.

Should this bill become law, it undoubtedly will be challenged in a lawsuit. Challengers of the law likely will succeed under well-established statutory and constitutional sex discrimination law including Title IX. Consequences of a Title IX violation include the loss of federal funding for schools. In 2020, Kansas schools received approximately $530M in federal funds.

SB208 violates the U.S. Constitution because discrimination based on transgender status is sex discrimination.

This bill is bad public policy for at least two reasons. First, setting the State up to have to defend inevitable lawsuits and second, because it puts Kansas at risk of boycotts by businesses and the NCAA.

There can be no reasonable dispute concerning the vulnerability of transgender youth. The risks of adverse mental health outcomes, including an outsized risk of suicidal ideation and attempted suicide are well documented.

This bill is nothing more than a means of discrimination which has consequences. I urge you to vote no. (Attachment 26)

Asher J. Wickell, Clinically Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, testified in opposition stating the bill is both flawed in its premises and extraordinarily dangerous to the individuals it purports to protect. In light of longstanding participation by transgender athletes at the Olympic level, in multiple professional athletic associations, and in the NCAA, this bill excludes any address of transgender performance in competitive contexts. the bill also omits any address of the physiological outcomes of the many transgender adolescents and young women whose use of puberty-delaying treatment will ensure that they never experience male-typical puberty at all.

SB208 seems to rely on the specious assumption that transgender young people are universally known or recognizable, that any transgender student athletic can be identified as such simply by looking.

Of most concern is the particular threat to the mental health and basic survival of transgender children and your adults. Transgender young people are at alarmingly high risk for adverse outcomes including depression and anxiety, experiences of trauma, bullying, school avoidance and dropping out, substance abuse, running away from home, trading sex for survival necessities, and self-harming and suicidal behavior.

Despite the value of its stated goals, this bill represents an approach whose failures are already known and comprehensively documented. For these reasons, I must respectfully, but emphatically offer my opposition. (Attachment 27)

Davis Hammet stated passing such legislation would be a disgusting abuse of power exercised by government leaders against vulnerable transgender children. Subjecting all girls in Kansas to an invasive genital inspections procedure to play public school sports is bizarre and disturbing. He urges the Committee to reject all efforts to target and harass children. (Attachment 28)

Written Opponent testimony was submitted by:

Representative Brandon Woodard, District 30, Kansas House of Representatives (Attachment 29)

Nadine Johnson, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas (Attachment 30)

Liz Hamor, Director of Community Outreach, Equality Kansas (Attachment 31)

Laura Wiltanger (Attachment 32)

Brittany R. Doll (Attachment 33)

Amanda Mogoi, APRN, M-Care (Attachment 34)

Hannah Lohr (Attachment 35)

Debi Jackson (Attachment 36)

Julie Danielson (Attachment 37)

Averie Mendoza-Jones (Attachment 38)

Samuel Paunetto, Clinical Social Worker (Attachment 39)

Brett Hoedl (Attachment 40)

Keaton Vaughn (Attachment 41)

Claire Hill (Attachment 42)

Jada Childs (Attachment 43)

Ali Gleason (Attachment 44)

Randen Smith (Attachment 45)

Luciana De Anda (Attachment 46)

Jamie Snider (Attachment 47)

Michael Jones (Attachment 48)

Teresa Delgado (Attachment 49)

Jacob McCarty (Attachment 50)

Kristin Prince (Attachment 51)

Anna Gagel (Attachment 52)

David Gomez (Attachment 53)

Cathryn Oakley, State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel, Human Rights Campaign (Attachment 54)

Rev. Rachael Pryor (Attachment 55)

Rev. Jonalu Johnstone (Attachment 56)

The Right Reverend Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, Tenth Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of Kansas (Attachment 57)

Dr. Kristie Clark, MD, President, Kansas Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (Attachment 58)

Michael Poppa, Executive Director of the Mainstream Coalition (Attachment 59)

Ryan Watson (Attachment 60)

Offices of General Counsel of the University of Kansas and Kansas State University (Attachment 61)

Neutral Testimony:

Mark Tallman, Associate Executive Director, Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB), appeared as neutral as the KASB has not taken a specific position on the issue of transgender students participating in sports. KASB has a number of concerns:

  • The bill may conflict with Title IX requirements that Kansas public schools are expected to follow and face legal action if they do not. This would require districts to make certain decisions, but then leave districts liable for legal challenges even if the district followed the law. Passage before the Supreme Court has ruled on the application of Title IX invites additional costly and time-consuming litigation involving our members no matter what decisions they make.
  • Current law seems to be working. We know transgender students are participating in sports. We have not seen an outcry over the results. Nor are we aware of any legal challenges over local board action under current law.
  • This issue involves a balancing of rights and interests. Addressing both mental and physical health issues is a priority position of KASB.
  • A student's pre-participation physical evaluation form may be submitted, provided such form verifies the student's biological sex. (Attachment 62)

Written neutral testimony was submitted by:

Deena Horst and Ben Jones, Legislative Liaisons, Kansas State Board of Education. (Attachment 63)

The Chair directed Committee Members to submit to the Committee Assistant any questions they have regarding testimony heard. The questions will be compiled and emailed to the Conferees. They will then answer any or all of the questions and email them back to the Committee Assistant who will then compile the questions with the answers and upload the document on to the website. (Attachment 64)(Attachment 65).

There being no further Conferees, the  Chair closed the hearing on SB208 and the meeting was adjourned at 2:28 PM.

The next meeting will be February 24, 2021 at 1:30 PM in Room 144-S.