Kentucky gov. vetoes bill banning boys from competing in girls' sports; Republicans may override veto

Andy Beshear
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks at the Center for African American Heritage during a bill signing event on April 9, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. |

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed a bill that would prohibit boys from competing in girls’ sports, arguing in part that the measure was unnecessary in light of scholastic sports standards.

The Democrat governor vetoed Senate Bill 83 on Wednesday, saying in a veto message that he believed the standards of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association were sufficient.

These standards, according to Beshear, require student-athletes to participate in the sports that corresponded with the sex listed on their birth certificate, with some exceptions given to students who have purportedly undergone "sex reassignment after puberty" by taking cross-sex hormones. 

The governor claimed that this allows trans-identified students to fairly compete against girls: “KHSAA has approached the issue of transgender sports participation with nuance, collaboration and a sense of fairness that would allow transgender children the opportunity to participate in sports without disturbing the competitive balance."

“KHSAA policy requires that a student-athlete who has undergone sex reassignment after puberty must take hormonal therapy in a verifiable manner and for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in competition, and if the student-athlete stops taking hormonal therapy they must participate in the sport consistent with their birth gender,” the governor's statement added. 

Beshear noted that the Republican governors of Utah and Indiana had vetoed similar legislation, expressing concerns over possible litigation and questions of “equal protection rights.”

The veto by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox was overridden by Utah’s Republican-majority Legislature last month, and Republican lawmakers plan to override Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto when they meet again in May.

The Republican-controlled legislature of Kentucky has the chance to override the veto later this month, when they reconvene next week for their final two days of the session, reported The Associated Press.

Also known as the "Fairness in Women’s Sports Act," SB 83 would mandate that students participate in sports that correspond with their birth sex.

The biological sex of the student-athlete would be determined either by their original birth certificate or a sworn affidavit by a medical professional.

“An athletic activity or sport designated as ‘girls’ for students in grades six (6) through twelve (12) shall not be open to members of the male sex,” continued the bill.

“Neither the state board, nor any agency designated by the state board to manage interscholastic athletics, nor any school district, nor any member school shall entertain a complaint, open an investigation, or take any other adverse action against a school for maintaining separate interscholastic or intramural athletic teams, activities, or sports for students of the female sex.”

At present, there are 14 states that have such laws on the books: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

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