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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

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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