This column is not a “fake news” rant. But as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Journalists have an obligation to serve the truth . . . in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, the nature of the facts” (2497).
Nearly all news reporting on the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, recently passed by the Kansas Legislature but (successfully) vetoed by Gov. Laura Kelly, is an example of de facto advocacy and unfairness cloaked as objective journalism.
This legislation, officially known as SB 55, is a fascinating read. It can be accessed online at: www.kslegislature.org using the Find Bill search box.
SB 55 would have protected women and girl athletes from the unfair physical advantages inherent in bigger and stronger biological male competitors.
It would prevent situations like that which occurred in Connecticut where two teenage boys “transitioned,” identified as female, and then took 15 state track championships from nine girls who previously held the titles.
Women who testified in favor of SB 55 included several champion Kansas University athletes, a former Olympian and one of the first women from Kansas to take advantage of Title IX, the landmark law that guaranteed equal opportunities for college scholarships and participation previously reserved for men.
The news media — wholly adopting language and issue framing supplied by opponents like the Kansas LGBTQ+ lobby — claimed SB 55 would “ban transgender” kids from sports. This is simply untrue. It would not have impacted male or coed teams. Everyone gets to play.
The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act would have simply ensured that athletic competition would take place on a level playing field for all Kansas students. The words “ban” or “transgender” are not found in the bill.
The news media narrative of a “transgender sports ban” carried the day. Proponents of SB 55 were vilified as schoolyard “bullies.” One Senate opponent outrageously declared there would be “blood on your hands” if SB 55 passed.
It would be a mistake to shrug our shoulders and dismiss the loss of the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act as a meaningless political skirmish. Like other aspects of Catholic Church teaching connected to contemporary culture, we find a valuable lesson.
Pope Francis has been clear about the evil of “gender ideology.”
The Holy Father has been equally insistent about advocating a “Christian anthropology” and a “human ecology” that respects “our dignity as human beings” and “the necessary relationship of our life” to the “moral law, which is inscribed into our nature” (“Laudato Si’,” cf. 154-155).
We can and should respectfully correct the secular scribes of our day. Let us also defend the unique gift, beauty and truth of human sexuality.