With veto-proof majorities, the Kansas House and Senate passed and sent to the governor’s desk Senate Substitute for House Bill 2138, providing for separate accommodations for biological boys and girls on school-sponsored overnight trips after that occured in USD 491 Eudora.
The House approved the measure 84-39. The Senate OK’d it 28-10.
The bill was in response to last year’s controversial trip Eudora students took to Costa Rica when three girls discovered just before departure they had to share a room with a transgender student who was born a male.
The legislation, applying to all districts statewide, seeks to prevent a future occurrence like the Eudora incident last year. It reads:
“The board of education of each school district shall adopt a policy requiring that separate overnight accommodations be provided for students of each biological sex during school district sponsored travel that requires overnight stays by students. Such policy shall be provided to parents prior to a student’s participation in an activity or travel that requires overnight stays by students.
“Any student who is subject to retaliation or other adverse action by a school district or any employee thereof as a result of reporting a violation of this section shall have a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages and any other relief available under law against such school district. All civil actions shall be initiated within two years after the harm occurred. Students who prevail on a claim brought pursuant to this section shall be entitled to monetary damages, including for any psychological, emotional and physical harm suffered, reasonable attorney fees and costs and any other appropriate relief.”
The legislation defines “biological sex” as:
(the) biological indication of male and female in the context of reproductive potential or capacity… without regard to an individual’s psychological, chosen or subjective experience of gender”
School officials last year unsuccessfully attempted to avoid responsibility for the incident, indicating at one point it was not “school-sponsored”
The legislation also addresses that accountability issue:
“school district sponsored travel” means any travel that is necessary for students to attend, participate or compete in any event or activity that is sponsored or sanctioned by a school operated by the school district, including, but not limited to, any travel that is organized:
(A) By any club or other organization recognized by the school;
(B) through any communication facilitated by the school, such as email; or
(C) through fundraising activities conducted, in whole or in part, by school district employees or on school district property.”
After hearing that Eudora officials planned to withhold comment on the legislation until after the bond issue vote, we asked Eudora Superintendent Stu Moeckel and Board of Education President Mark Chrislip for reaction to the passage of the legislation. As he did last year during the Costa Rica controversy, Superintendent Moeckel declined comment. Board President Chrislip did not respond.
The nearly $40 million bond issue voters will decide in May will fund expanded classroom space in the high school, infrastructure and connectivity upgrades, and enhanced safety measures.