TOPEKA, KS – Today, Independent Women’s Voice celebrates the Kansas Legislature’s veto override of the Women’s Bill of Rights (WBOR) with both chambers securing a two thirds majority and bipartisan support in the House. WBOR legally defines sex-based terms, like ‘woman’ and ‘man’ and protects Kansas women’s rights to privacy, safety, and equal opportunity. Kansas legislators acted in bipartisan fashion, countering Governor Laura Kelly’s anti-woman veto; instead, taking a stand for women and for the continued legal relevance of biological sex.
The Kansas Women’s Bill of Rights will prevent judges, unelected bureaucrats, and administrators in Kansas from unilaterally redefining the word ‘woman’ to mean anyone who “identifies as a woman.” 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. 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.
Unlike what opponents of the legislation have suggested, WBOR will not take away the rights of anyone but simply codify existing protections into law. In fact, according to a poll commissioned by Independent Women’s Forum, eighty-percent of Kansans 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. Kansas legislators stood with their constituents with today’s vote.
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.
May Davis Mailman, senior fellow at Independent Women’s Law Center and a Kansas native, added, “I am beyond fortunate to have grown up in Kansas, where I played girls’ fastpitch softball, studied eye-opening topics in my female-only health class, and grew close to my sorority sisters. The next generation of Kansas women deserves a say in whether to preserve women-only spaces. Thanks to the Kansas legislature, these women – not a court, not a bureaucrat – can decide whether to give up these tremendous experiences.”
Lauren Bone, attorney and policy advisor for Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) and co-author of the Women’s Bill of Rights, said, “We are thrilled today that the Kansas legislature voted to override Governor Kelly’s anti-woman veto of the Women’s Bill of Rights. As a feminist nonprofit, WoLF fights to protect and restore the rights of women, such as lesbian and bisexual women who are disproportionately represented where female-only housing is most critical, especially in shelters and prisons. This historic bill is especially important for ensuring the safety and dignity of these marginalized populations. With the veto override sustained, Kansas has laid the groundwork to ensure laws protecting all women cannot be changed outside of the democratic process.”
Riley Gaines, 12x All-American swimmer and Independent Women Forum spokeswoman, said, “Today is a huge win for Kansas women! I applaud the Legislature for their leadership and commitment to protecting the sex-based rights of women. As a woman and a female athlete, I can attest first hand to the importance of women having private spaces when safety and fairness are at risk. Now that the Women’s Bill of Rights will be Kansas law, women have clarity that when they enter a space labeled for ‘women’, biological men will not be inside.”
To read and sign the Women’s Bill of Rights, click HERE.
Independent Women’s Voice fights for women by expanding support for policy solutions that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance freedom, opportunities, and well-being.