News Briefs

Kansas political duo — Ron and Susan Estes — vote for bills on transgender athletes, parental rights

By: - March 10, 2023 1:02 pm
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes and state Rep. Susan Estes, Kansas Republicans and a married couple, both voted for transgender sports and parental bill of rights legislation. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes and state Rep. Susan Estes, Kansas Republicans and a married couple, both voted for transgender sports and parental bill of rights legislation. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — U.S. Rep. Ron Estes and state Rep. Susan Estes doubled down on support of legislation preventing transgender girls or women from competing in school sports consistent with their gender identity and advancing an educational bill of rights affirming influence of parents on classroom instruction.

Estes, a Republican serving the 4th District in the U.S. House, joined a party-line vote in a congressional committee Thursday to approve amendment of Title IX to compel assignment of transgender students to school sports teams based on genetics and reproductive biology at birth. The federal measure labeled the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 has yet to receive a full U.S. House vote.

In the House Education and Workforce Committee, Congressman Estes also supported passage of a bill of rights articulating the role of a child’s parents in determining instructional content in schools.

“Our children are our future, and Republicans are working to build a stronger America for them,” he said. “These bills that we passed in committee support the right for parents to have an active voice in their child’s education and protect female athletes from political schemes — ensuring a level playing field.”

In Topeka, state Rep. Estes, the Wichita Republican married to the Kansas congressman, voted with the House majority in February for a parental bill of rights and a transgender sports bill. The education bill hasn’t received a vote in the Senate, but the Legislature sent the transgender sports bill Thursday to Gov. Laura Kelly. The Democratic governor vetoed a comparable measure in 2022.

Rep. Estes signed onto an explanation of vote on the transgender bill that quoted Kelly saying “men should not play girls’ sports.” Supporters of the bill don’t consider transgender females to be girls or women, but that view doesn’t prevail among opponents of the transgender legislation.

“I take the governor at her word,” she said in the joint comment of two-dozen House peers. “This simple statement of common sense is something I believe we can and should all agree on. We must protect that which so many have worked so hard to achieve.”

State Rep. Mari-Lynn Poskin, D-Leawood, said the transgender sports language in House Bill 2238 violated the Kansas Republican Party’s platform, which expressed preference for “more efficient and responsive solutions” developed by local or smaller units of government.

She said the Kansas State High School Activities Association had policies to address gender identity in sports competition and the Legislature’s action was an unnecessary intrusion.

State Rep. Valdenia Winn, a Democrat from Kansas City, said provisions of the parental bill of rights in House Bill 2236 were so broadly written it would allow “disgruntled and misguided parents to disrupt a child’s education and interfere with school operations.” She said school districts in Kansas had effective procedures for addressing parental dissent.

“We cannot accept bigotry and ignorance to disrupt school operations,” Winn said. “Knowledge must not be segregated. Facts must be taught.”

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International.