The Fairness of Women’s Sports Act in Kansas

2022 governor candidates share their opinions on Senate Bill 160


Kansas Governor Laura Kelly will face Republican candidate Derek Schmidt in the upcoming Kansas Primary Election.

Zadie Tenpenny

The contest between incumbent Governor Laura Kelly and challenger Derek Schmidt has several hinge issues. One of the most controversial is the Fairness of Women’s Sports Act which requires all school-related (elementary to college) sports teams to be based on biological sex in Kansas.

The bill states that all school sports teams in Kansas who compete against other schools must have teams based on their biological sex. Teams can be all-female, all-male or mixed. The bill says that a female sports team can not allow biological men to compete with them. This bill does allow, however, biological females to compete on a men’s team.

Riley Gaines is an active advocate for the bill and a former competitive high school swimmer. Gaines competed against Lia Thomas, an openly transgender woman. The two tied for fifth place. Gaines said she thought that the NCAA wouldn’t allow Thomas to compete, given the “biological and anatomical differences” between biological men and women.

Derek Schmidt, a Republican nominee for Kansas governor, pledged to sign this bill within 100 days if he is elected.

“After hearing Riley’s story and others like it, it’s clear why this issue matters so much,” Schmidt said at a campaign event on Sep. 1. “This is common sense. And this is fairness.” 

Democratic governor Laura Kelly has vetoed this bill twice, once in April 2021 and once in April 2022.

It’s absolutely unnecessary,” Kelly said after vetoing the bill in 2021. “But even more than that, it’s hurtful and discriminatory.”

The Kansas governor election will be held on Nov. 8. To register to vote, visit the JOCO Election Site. For polling place information, use VoterView, located at The deadline to register to vote in Kansas is Tuesday, October 18.