Gay dad families in Kansas have narrowly avoided being the latest to live under the laws of a so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.
Kansas’ Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed four bills, including an education bill that Republicans call a proposed “parents’ bill of rights” similar to Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law. Members of the Kansas Senate had passed the bill on April 1st.
Gov. Kelly also vetoed a proposed ban on transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports, and a Republican proposal aimed at making it easier for parents to try to remove materials from public school classrooms and libraries. A total of fifteen states have now enacted laws banning transgender athletes from certain sports teams, most recently Kentucky last week.
The parental education bill would have required the state’s boards of education of each school district to develop and adopt policies to guarantee parents’ rights.
Those rights would have included but weren't limited to "the right to direct the education and care of the parent’s child and the right to direct the upbringing and moral or religious training of the parent’s child."
It also proposed parents have the ability to “object to any learning material or activity based upon harm to the child or impairment of the parent’s firmly held beliefs, values, or principles and withdraw the parent’s child from said activity.” And it would have given parents the ability to “challenge the material or educational benefit of any book, magazine, or other material available to students in the school library, the successful result of which would lead to the removal of the item from the school.”
Gov. Kelly said both Republican and Democratic governors in other states have joined her in vetoing similar divisive bills for the same reasons.
“It’s harmful to students and their families,” Kelly said in a statement. “And it’s bad for business.”
SB 58 was introduced by the state Senate Committee on Education at the request of Senator Renee Erickson, a Republican from Wichita, to establish the Parents’ Bill of Rights in Kansas.
Rep. Stephanie Byers, a Wichita Democrat, and the state’s only transgender lawmaker, told the Kansas City Beacon that a bill banning transgender female athletes robs LGBTQ students of their sense of safety, and that these attacks have only happened since queer people started gaining more rights.
“If you look back in the past, we didn’t see bills attacking trans kids until after Obergefell,” Rep. Byers said, referencing the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. “After Obergefell, you see bathroom bills, identity bills, athletic bills, and now health care bills.”
Game On For Kansas Schools, a nonpartisan grassroots effort by a group of parents, teachers, and concerned community members, tweeted that "not a single parent testified in support of" SB 58, which they are calling "the Teacher Demoralization and Censorship Act."
We thank @GovLauraKelly for vetoing Senate Bill 58, which we are calling the Teacher Demoralization and Censorship Act. We were among the many citizens and organizations who testified against this bill and note that not a single parent testified in support of it. #ksleg #ksed pic.twitter.com/9AcWGYRlUa— Game On for Kansas Schools (@GameOnKansas) April 15, 2022
In Florida, where the so-called Don't Say Gay bill was signed into law last month, one educator has proposed a thoughtful stance that could effectively sabotage the state’s discriminatory new law. Read more here.