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Gov. Kelly Vetoes Extreme Legislative Attack on Kansas Doctors, Teachers, Social Workers, and Trans Children

 Organizations statewide applauded Kelly’s move defending the attack on parents’ rights, medical freedom, and teachers and other state employees while warning against the bill’s broad reach

Friday, April 12, 2024

Esmie Tseng, Communications Director, ACLU of Kansas,
[email protected]
Taryn Jones, Policy Director, Equality Kansas, [email protected]
Rabbi Moti Rieber, Executive Director, Kansas Interfaith Action, [email protected]
Wulf Roby, Director of Communications, Loud Light Civic Action,
Michael Poppa, Executive Director, Mainstream, [email protected]
Hanna Sumpter, Director of Communications & Marketing, PPGP Votes, [email protected]
Zack Gingrich-Gaylord, Communications Director, Trust Women Foundation, [email protected]

TOPEKA, KAN. – Kansas Governor Laura Kelly today vetoed SB233, an extreme bill passed by the legislature that would ban access to gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth and that could broadly censor all kinds of conduct by state employees who support trans students, such as teachers, social workers, and counselors. The legislature is expected to attempt to override the veto when it returns later this month.

A number of organizations, including the ACLU of Kansas, Equality Kansas, Kansas Interfaith Action, Loud Light, Mainstream, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, and Trust Women Foundation are warning legislators that the bill’s extreme reach could have unintended consequences and urging them to sustain the governor’s veto.

“We cannot overstate the harm this bill will cause to some of our most vulnerable Kansas children and their families,” said D.C. Hiegert, LGBTQ+ Fellow of the ACLU of Kansas. “This bill attacks parents’ rights to access life-saving healthcare for their kids and threatens Kansas medical providers. And it is written so broadly, it could impact spaces like schools, therapist offices, or state agencies like the Kansas Department of Children and Families–and possibly every person who provides any kind of support or services to children in those places, as well as the youth who need them.”

In addition to singling out and banning transgender youth from accessing healthcare that would remain available to non-trans youth, SB233 prohibits “state employee[s]” who care for children from “promot[ing]” or “provid[ing]” the “use of social transitioning”–but fails to define these terms or, when a definition is provided, defines them so broadly that it could potentially prevent a wide variety of conduct, as simple as allowing youth to dress in a manner they desire or calling them by the pronouns both they and their parents support using.

“This bill could make teachers, social workers, and other state employees targets for punishment or retaliation for even small, basic measures of support in the classroom and elsewhere,” said Taryn Jones, Policy Director of Equality Kansas. “Its mere introduction and consideration already has a chilling effect on those folks, and we can only imagine the impact that has on kids.”

SB 180, which codified antiquated definitions of sex into law, has been weaponized since it was passed in the 2023 session after an override of Gov. Kelly’s veto. While SB 180 did not include any specific references to identification documents, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach has used its broadly and vaguely written language to justify the state’s attack on gender marker changes on birth certificates and driver’s licenses.

“We’re hearing absolute panic from teachers, social workers, counselors, and other employees across the state about what this could mean for vulnerable Kansas kids’ mental health,” said Michael Poppa, Executive Director of Mainstream Coalition. “Because the bill is written so broadly, its reach and mechanisms are unclear. And when laws are unclear, we have seen the potential for them to be weaponized for political gain.”

“Teachers are the frontline for our kids – and that includes providing support when there is a hostile or abusive environment in the home,” said Wulf Roby, Director of Communications of Loud Light Civic Action. “Frankly, passing this law and overriding the governor’s veto would border on child abuse by the legislators who support it.”

This press release is available online here.


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The ACLU of Kansas is the statewide affiliate of the national American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU of Kansas is dedicated to preserving and advancing the civil rights and legal freedoms guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. For more information, visit our website at

Equality Kansas was established in October 2005. Originally formed by the merger of independent LGBT advocacy groups in Topeka, Manhattan, and Wichita, Equality Kansas is a chapter-based grassroots organization. Our mission is to end discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. We work towards our mission through education, public policy advocacy, and political action. More at

Kansas Interfaith Action is a statewide, multifaith issue–advocacy organization that “puts faith into action” by educating, engaging and advocating on behalf of people of faith and the public regarding critical social, economic, and climate justice issues. KIFA supporters are shaped by the values of our diverse faiths, which connect us to an age–old concern for justice, peace, and human dignity. Rooted in faith, we join hands across differences to work for moral public policy in Kansas. Learn more at

Loud Light Civic Action engages, educates, and empowers individuals from underrepresented populations to build community power that has an impact on decision makers. We’re Transforming Kansas through increasing youth civic engagement, protecting and expanding the right to vote, and increasing government transparency. Learn more at

Mainstream is dedicated to creating a more representative and responsive government by empowering informed participation and meaningful action in the political process. We envision a Kansas political system that represents all of its constituents. Learn more at:

Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes is an independent, nonpartisan 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. We lobby state lawmakers, mobilize more than 120,000 grassroots supporters, and engage in issue education in order to protect and expand access to health care and comprehensive sex education in the communities we serve, and to promote Planned Parenthood’s mission. Learn more at

Trust Women Foundation is a leading reproductive rights advocacy organization and health care provider. With clinics in two states that have been at the center of the struggle for abortion justice for decades, we have a direct, on-the-ground perspective regarding the current state of reproductive health care and its future. Learn more at