TOPEKA, KS – Independent Women’s Voice applauds the bipartisan passage by the Kansas House of Representatives and Kansas Senate of the Women’s Bill of Rights (WBoR), legislation that legally defines sex and other sex-based words, such as ‘woman’ and ‘man.’ Independent Women’s Voice commends the legislators – on both sides of the aisle – who supported the bill and calls upon Governor Kelly to sign this common sense measure to protect legislative transparency.
Kansas is the first state to pass WBoR through the legislature. Inspired by IWV’s Women’s Bill of Rights, other states across the nation are advancing similar legislation to clarify the legal meaning of common sex-based words.
If signed into law by Governor Kelly, the Kansas Women’s Bill of Rights would prevent judges, unelected bureaucrats, and administrators in Kansas from unilaterally redefining the word ‘woman’ to mean anyone who “identifies as a woman.” In this way, the Women’s Bill of Rights preserves the legislature’s authority to determine whether, and in what circumstances, rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, athletic teams, lockerooms, and dormitories should remain single-sex or be opened to biological males who identify as female. And by adopting the federal intermediate scrutiny standard for evaluating sex-based programs, WBoR prevents judges from declaring unconstitutional programs specifically designed to promote women’s entrepreneurship and opportunity.
Independent Women’s Voice, Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC), and Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) collaborated to draft the model legislation in March 2022. The U.S. Chapter of Women’s Declaration International (WDI, USA) also endorses the Women’s Bill of Rights.
Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s law Center, the legal advocacy arm of Independent Women’s Voice, said, “WBoR was designed to be non-partisan legislation that women’s rights advocates on both sides of the aisle can support. It neither changes current law nor prevents the legislature from adopting new civil rights protections.”
Lauren Bone, attorney and policy advisor for Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) and co-author of the Women’s Bill of Rights, said, “The Women’s Bill of Rights is supported by women across the political spectrum. Opponents want to paint it as anti-LGBT, but lesbian and bisexual women are disproportionately represented where female-only housing is most critical, such as homeless shelters and prisons. This is why a feminist nonprofit like WoLF teamed up with IWV to write the Women’s Bill of Rights; so that laws protecting them and all marginalized women cannot be changed outside of the democratic process. We thank the Kansas legislature and we urge Governor Kelly to sign this bill and ensure equal protection under the law for all women in Kansas.”
May Davis Mailman, senior fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center and a Kansas native, added, “If Gov. Kelly will not sign the bill, she has a duty to explain exactly which women’s rights or benefits she wants to let bureaucrats and judicial activists tamper with? Separate sports teams for female athletes? On the campaign trail, Kelly said she supported single-sex teams for women. Has she changed her mind? Is she hoping that unelected officials will meddle with the law, taking these decisions out of the hands of democratically elected leaders?”
Riley Gaines, 12x All-American swimmer and Independent Women Forum spokeswoman, said, “I was proud to testify before the Senate and House in support of the Kansas Women’s Bill of Rights and make the case why Kansans need this in law. The leadership of Kansan politicians is a model for the rest of the country to follow. They are unafraid to codify in law what it means to be a woman. I applaud all the state senators and state representatives for their leadership and commitment on this issue and hope other states follow suit moving forward.”
A recent poll commissioned by Independent Women’s Forum found that 80% of Kansas respondents think it is important that Kansas pass a law to define sex-based terms like “man” and “woman.” In that same poll, 86% of respondents responded that they believe single-sex spaces should be preserved where safety or fairness are at stake.
Read and sign the Women’s Bill of Rights HERE.