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Women account for nearly two-thirds of HIV-related arrests in Kentucky

Using data obtained from the Kentucky State Police researchers found that all but one HIV-related arrests since 2006 were related to sex work

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Photo Credit: Covington Police Department, Kentucky

LOS ANGELES – Since 2006, at least 32 people have been arrested under Kentucky laws that criminalize people living with HIV, according to a new report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Women account for nearly two-thirds (62%) of all HIV-related arrests but only one-sixth (17%) of the state’s population of people living with HIV.

Using data obtained from the Uniform Crime Reporting Section of the Kentucky State Police, researchers found that all but one of Kentucky’s HIV-related arrests since 2006 were related to sex work. In almost half (44%) of all HIV-related arrests, the HIV-related offense was the only reason for contact with law enforcement.

HIV criminalization is a term used to describe laws that either criminalize otherwise legal conduct or increase the penalties for illegal conduct based upon a person’s HIV-positive status. More than two-thirds of U.S. states and territories have enacted HIV criminal laws.

Kentucky has two HIV-specific laws. The first contains misdemeanor and felony provisions for engaging in sex work while knowingly or unknowingly being HIV-positive. The second has a felony charge for people living with HIV who donate blood, tissues, or organs.

“A person can be arrested for sex work in the state without engaging in actual sex acts,” said lead author Nathan Cisneros, HIV Criminalization Analyst at the Williams Institute. “That means Kentucky law can apply a felony charge—which carries a prison term of up to five years—to people living with HIV without requiring actual transmission or even the possibility of transmission.”

KEY FINDINGS 

  • At least 32 people in Kentucky have been arrested for HIV-related criminal offenses since 2006.
  • Crimes related to sex work accounted for 97% of all of Kentucky’s HIV-related arrests.
  • Overall, women comprise 17% of people living with HIV in Kentucky, but 62% of people arrested for HIV-related offenses.
    • White women account for 43% of Kentucky’s population, but 8% of the state’s population of people living with HIV, and 59% of those arrested for HIV-related offenses.
  • In 44% of all HIV-related arrests, the HIV-related offense was the only offense cited.
  • Enforcement of HIV crimes is geographically concentrated. On a per-capita basis, Kenton County just across the border from Cincinnati had about eight times more HIV-related arrests than Jefferson County, the state’s most populous county.
    • Covington Police Department in Kenton County comprised one-quarter of all HIV-related arrests (8), followed by the Lexington Police Department (6), and the Louisville Metro Police Department (3).

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Kentucky

Kentucky’s lone trans athlete can’t play on team she helped start 

The Washington Post interviews Fischer Wells, Kentucky’s lone trans athlete who prompted the passing of anti-trans legislation in the state

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Fischer works on a laptop during class. (Jon Cherry for The Washington Post)

By Moriah Balingit | LOUISVILLE – When 13-year-old Fischer Wells signed up for field hockey last fall, she had never played the sport. Her parents were confounded. Fischer had run cross-country before and once tried out unsuccessfully for a street hockey team, but outside of that, the seventh-grader had not expressed much interest in sports. 

A month into the season, her parents were fighting for her right to play. The first games had been marred with challenges. First, there were not enough players, until Fischer recruited classmates to fill out the team. Then Fischer’s stick was too short. Finally, through a teary phone conversation with the athletic director, her parents had learned the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s rules would not allow Fischer to play. 

Because Fischer — besides being a middle-schooler with boundless enthusiasm, a bookworm and a novice field hockey player — is transgender. The association had set extraordinarily high hurdles for transgender athletes to play on teams that matched their gender identity. It required that transgender athletes undergo “sex reassignment” before puberty — though it was unclear what that meant…. 

The seventh-grader continued showing up to practices, but she couldn’t bring herself to attend the game in which she’d be benched. Her absence seemed to galvanize her teammates, who could not believe she had been ousted for being herself. For every goal they scored, they shouted, “For Fischer!” 

After a few days, Fischer won back her spot on the team when the school district ruled that its own nondiscrimination clause trumped the state athletic regulations. It was the Westport Warhawks’ only victory that season; on the field, they never won a game… 

Then, after the first season concluded, Fischer would suffer another defeat that would sting worse than the first: In March, Kentucky lawmakers passed a law banning athletes like Fischer from playing on girls’ teams. 

Fischer was the state’s only known transgender student-athlete, according to activists and lawmakers. Still, the legislators believed, she had to be stopped. 

Keep reading: https://wapo.st/3PKgcCo 

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Kentucky

Lawmakers override Kentucky Gov.’s veto of anti-Trans youth sports law

The bill is a carbon copy of the anti-trans bills sweeping the nation this past year and ignores the policies that were already in place

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KY Senate overrides Governor Andy Beshear’s veto on Anti-Trans Sports Ban

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky legislature voted Wednesday to override Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 83 and enact the measure as law, banning transgender girls from participating in sports alongside their peers from sixth grade through college. With this override of the governor’s veto, Kentucky now joins 14 other states banning trans students from participating in sports that align with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 83 (SB83), known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, would require the Board of Education or agency designated by the Board of Education to manage interscholastic athletics to promulgate administrative regulations or bylaws requiring schools that participate in interscholastic athletics to designate all athletic teams, activities, and sports based upon the biological sex of the students eligible to participate.

The law would prohibit “biological male” students from participating in athletic teams, activities, and sports designated as “girls.”

“Governor Beshear was the third governor this year to uphold the dignity of transgender and nonbinary youth, and veto an attempt by lawmakers to write them out of existence. While those young people continue to face unrelenting political attacks, the Kentucky legislature voted to override that act of courage and compassion, pushing these marginalized youth even further to the sidelines,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “This bill claimed to solve a problem of ‘fairness’ in school sports in Kentucky that didn’t exist, but its negative impacts on the mental health and well-being of trans and nonbinary youth — young people who already face disproportionate rates of bullying, depression, and suicide — are very real. To the young people in Kentucky watching tonight: you are stronger than they know. We are here for you, we will fight for you, and we are not going anywhere.”

Beshear in his veto message to lawmakers accused the legislation’s sponsors of ignoring the policies undertaken taken by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to assure that no student-athlete who has an unfair advantage can compete. Under the association’s policy, a post-pubescent trans female must take hormonal therapy for a sufficient length of time to minimize any gender-related advantage.

The Fairness Campaign released the following statement from Executive Director Chris Hartman:

“Shame on the Kentucky General Assembly for attacking trans kids today. Shame on our commonwealth’s lawmakers for passing the first explicitly anti-LGBTQ law in Kentucky in almost a decade.

“Today, the state legislature voted to override Gov. Beshear’s veto and enact a discriminatory sports ban into law, depriving transgender girls of the opportunity to play on a school sports team, simply because of who they are.

“This law singles out the one openly transgender girl in Kentucky’s entire school system who plays on a school sports team. She started her school’s field hockey team, recruited all of the other team members, and just wanted the opportunity to play with her friends. Now Kentucky lawmakers have intervened to stop her from playing with her friends her eighth grade year.

“This bill has been so plainly about political gain and using Kentucky kids as political pawns that it is an embarrassment to our commonwealth. Instead of solving any of Kentucky’s real problems, the politicians behind this bill used their power to bully this one student and take away rights from kids who just want to play games with friends. The bill is a carbon copy of the anti-trans bills sweeping the nation this past year and ignores the policies that were already in place to ensure an equal playing field for student-athletes.

“Kentuckians deserve lawmakers that protect all kids in our community, including transgender children. The enactment of this law makes clear that the rights of transgender people and kids in Kentucky are in danger. We’re deeply committed to fighting back against this discriminatory bill and ensuring equal rights for everyone in our state.

“The fight won’t stop here. We applaud Governor Andy Beshear and all those who stood on the side of justice, including several Republicans voting alongside Democrats in the Kentucky Senate and House to uphold the governor’s veto. We look forward to the lawsuit that’s sure to come. If we can’t protect Kentucky’s trans kids in our legislature, we’ll protect them in our courts.”

Kentucky lawmakers override governor’s vetoes on abortion, transgender sports bills:

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Kentucky

Kentucky Governor vetoes anti-Trans bill; override likely

“Transgender children deserve public officials’ efforts to demonstrate that they are valued members of our community”

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Kentucky Democratic Governor Andy Beshear (Screenshot/NBC Nightly News)

FRANKFORT – Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear vetoed legislation this week that would ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams in Kentucky schools that match their gender identities from sixth grade through college.

 Senate Bill 83 (SB83), known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, would require the Board of Education or agency designated by the Board of Education to manage interscholastic athletics to promulgate administrative regulations or bylaws requiring schools that participate in interscholastic athletics to designate all athletic teams, activities, and sports based upon the biological sex of the students eligible to participate.

The law would prohibit “biological male” students from participating in athletic teams, activities, and sports designated as “girls.”

Beshear in his veto message to lawmakers accused the legislation’s sponsors of ignoring the policies undertaken taken by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to assure that no student-athlete who has an unfair advantage can compete. Under the association’s policy, a post-pubescent trans female must take hormonal therapy for a sufficient length of time to minimize any gender-related advantage. 

“Transgender children deserve public officials’ efforts to demonstrate that they are valued members of our community through compassion, kindness, and empathy, even if not understanding,” the governor wrote.

The Republican dominated Kentucky legislature passed the measure with veto proof majority votes and according to the Louisville daily, The Courier-Journal, lawmakers intend to reconvene next week at which time both the House and the Senate could override Beshear’s veto.

 “I applaud Governor Beshear for doing the right thing today and vetoing a harmful piece of legislation that would deprive transgender girls and young women of the opportunity to grow and learn from being on a team, simply because of who they are,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign.

“From the start, this bill has been more about fear than fairness. In Kentucky’s entire school system, there is only one openly transgender girl we know about who is playing on a school sports team. That student started her school’s field hockey team, recruited all of the other team members, and just wants the opportunity to play with her friends during her eighth-grade year. But rather than tackle any of the state’s real issues, legislators decided to use their time and power to bully this student and others like her. While we are pleased with the governor’s actions today, the rights of transgender people in Kentucky are still in danger. We urge state lawmakers to follow the lead of Governor Beshear and show compassion to transgender people in our commonwealth by not overriding this veto.”

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Kentucky teacher quits after LGBTQ-supportive message backlash

Local news outlets reported that some parents had an issue with the message, calling it “inappropriate.” Morgan also faced threats of violence

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Courtesy of Tyler Clay Morgan

IRVINE, Ky. – A music teacher in Kentucky resigned from his job Monday after backlash over a message he wrote on his whiteboard expressing support for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Tyler Clay Morgan, a former music teacher at West Irvine Intermediate School in Eastern Kentucky, wrote, “You are free to be yourself. You matter,” on the board in his classroom, accompanied by rainbow and Trans Pride flags, according to a Facebook post. 

Local news outlets reported that some parents had an issue with the message, calling it “inappropriate.” According to NBC-affiliate LEX 18, Morgan also faced threats of violence. But other parents were supportive of the message, according to reports and social media comments. 

School officials were made aware of the incident last Thursday and opened an investigation, Estill County Superintendent Jeff Saylor told the Lexington Herald-Leader. 

In a Monday Facebook post, Morgan announced he would resign from his position “effective immediately on my own recognizance.” He added that he would not comment further on the matter “as of right now.”

“Please give me time and space to grieve and process,” he wrote. “I don’t know what’s in store for me but right now, I know [I] just need time to get my head straight.”

In a statement to LEX 18, Saylor elaborated on the incident, saying there “has been a lot of conversations and misinformation surrounding the incident.”

Saylor said that his issue was not with Morgan’s statement “because we have to meet the needs of all of our students and families.” Saylor’s issue was with “conversations that took place during class.”

“I firmly believe that students and their parents expect teachers to teach content about their assigned curriculum in a subject area,” he said. “Of course, there are times that conversations may vary from that day’s lesson plan, but these conversations went far beyond the music curriculum. It is my job to make sure that parents are not surprised by these types of situations.”

Saylor added that the matter has been “addressed and closed.” He will not comment further “out of respect for everyone involved.”

In a follow-up post, Morgan shared that “more work needs to be done in Kentucky, especially in Eastern Kentucky, to ensure that more resources are provided to make sure all students feel safe, secure, and seen, not just the ones that come out as part of any community or share hardships.”

“My hope is that every educator that sees this is empowered, passionate, and actively working to make a change in the world of education as I am,” he said.

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Kentucky

Kentucky anti-Trans youth sports bill heads to governor for signature

“Lawmakers should stop meddling in the lives of innocent kids and focus on more pressing issues that pose legitimate threats in Kentucky”

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Kentucky Democratic Governor Andy Beshear (Screenshot/NBC Nightly News)

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Senate passed Senate Bill 83 (SB83), an anti-Trans youth sports bill on final vote of 25-9 Thursday. The bill now heads to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear to be signed into law or vetoed. Senate Bill 83 would ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams in Kentucky schools that match their gender identities from sixth grade through college. 

The bill known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, would require the Board of Education or agency designated by the Board of Education to manage interscholastic athletics to promulgate administrative regulations or bylaws requiring schools that participate in interscholastic athletics to designate all athletic teams, activities, and sports based upon the biological sex of the students eligible to participate.

The law would prohibit “biological male” students from participating in athletic teams, activities, and sports designated as “girls.”

“Shame on the Kentucky General Assembly for prioritizing discrimination against some of our state’s most vulnerable youth,” said Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman.

“Now the only transgender girl we know currently playing sports in Kentucky schools, a 12-year-old seventh grader who started her middle school’s field hockey team, will be denied the opportunity to play with her friends during her eighth grade year.

“Transgender kids want the same things all children do—to play with their friends, get a good education and pursue their passions, including sports. Like all kids, they deserve the opportunity to participate on sports teams that help them stay active, bring them joy and fulfillment, and teach them about teamwork, discipline and sportsmanship.

“Our girls’ sports teams deserve more funding, respect and opportunity. Girls in sports continue to face barriers based on their gender, including transgender girls. Bans on transgender girls participating in sports do nothing to support girls’ sports. Attempts to ‘other’ transgender girls prevent the kinds of inclusive school environments that we need to ensure kids of all genders can have fair opportunities.

“It’s critical for governing bodies to listen to the education experts, coaches and sports associations shedding light on the importance of including transgender student athletes in opportunities to play sports with their classmates. These experts are working diligently to refine existing guidelines to ensure fair participation for all kids across every sport.

Lawmakers should stop meddling in the lives of innocent kids trying to play with friends on their schools’ sports teams and focus on more pressing issues that pose legitimate threats in Kentucky.”

The Fairness Campaign now calls on Kentucky’s most pro-equality Governor Andy Beshear to protect the lives of transgender youth and let all Kentucky kids play by vetoing Senate Bill 83,” said Hartman.

“Tonight, the Kentucky Senate advanced the sixth anti-trans bill in a single day, adding to three bills targeting trans youth in Oklahoma and two in Arizona. As transgender and nonbinary youth across the country continue to face unrelenting political attacks, we call on these lawmakers to focus on supporting them in the fight of their lives, not pushing them to the sidelines,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “This bill focuses on a problem in school sports that simply does not exist – yet the debates surrounding it are having a tangible negative impact on the mental health of an overwhelming majority of trans youth. These young people already face disproportionate rates of bullying, depression, and suicide, and bills like this one will only make matters worse. We implore Governor Beshear to follow the lead of the courageous Republican governors in Indiana and Utah who vetoed anti-trans bills this week, and veto this cruel and unnecessary law.”

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Kentucky House oks anti-Trans youth sports bill, next stop Senate

“The legislation will increase marginalization already experienced by trans girls & pose harm to organizations supportive of trans rights”

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Kentucky Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of Kentucky)

FRANKFORT – Kentucky’s House of Representatives voted 70-23 to approve legislation barring Trans girls from competing in girls’ sports in middle schools, high schools, and public colleges and universities Thursday.

Senate Bill 83, requires the Kentucky Board of Education and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to establish that an athletic activity or sport designated as “girls” shall not be open to members of the male sex, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

During debate over the legislation prior to the vote, state Rep. Bill Wesley R- Ravenna told the House that “God…hates sin,” then added “We need to encourage our children…if they are born a female, then we need to encourage them to be a female, and if they are born a male, then we need to encourage them to be a male.”

The Kentucky Youth Law Project, a non-profit, is among those groups opposing the bill.

The legislation will “serve to increase the marginalization already experienced by transgender girls, pose harm to organizations that are supportive of trans rights, and cause pain to cisgender girls who may have this law applied to them punitively,” a statement from the group said earlier this week.

Keith Elston, the group’s legal director, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that high school is hard enough for transgender students, who often face bullying, harassment, and mistreatment because of their gender identity.

“No student would pretend to be transgender just to join a particular sports team,” Elston said. “And no transgender student should be singled out for further bullying and discrimination, but that is exactly what this law, if enacted, would do.”

The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence and approval before being sent to Governor Andy Beshear, (D), who while is generally supportive of LGBTQ+ rights- should he veto it under Kentucky law his veto being overturned would only require a simple majority of lawmakers.

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