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Kentucky Senate committee passes Anti-Trans youth sports ban

Restricts Trans women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity- Bill will now move to the full Senate

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State of Kentucky Capitol Building (Photo Credit: State of Kentucky)

FRANKFORT – The Kentucky Senate Education Committee passed SB 83 on Thursday, which would restrict Trans women and girls from playing on school sports teams that match their gender identity. The bill will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

Fox News affiliate WDRB FOX32 News reported the ‘Save Women’s Sports Act’ that is sponsored by Sen. Robby Mills, Republican chairman of the Senate State & Local Government Committee, directs the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s board to pass regulations banning those identified as males on their birth certificates from participating on girls’ sports teams. The measure passed the Senate Education Committee on a party-line 9-3 vote.

“This bill has nothing to do with fairness in sports or transgender youth in Kentucky. It must be mentioned that all who testified in support of this bill about women and girls’ sports were men, and none of them could cite a single example of a trans student-athlete causing an issue in Kentucky,” said Sam Ames, Director for Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project.

“The discriminatory bills sweeping the country right now don’t just pose a danger if they become law; the fact that young trans people’s very identities are being debated by powerful adults is already having negative mental health impacts. When asked about these sports bans, 1 in 3 trans and nonbinary youth said they felt scared. We urge legislators to put the wellbeing of marginalized youth above fearmongering and stop this bill,”  Ames added.

Kentucky is among several states passing measures barring Trans women and girls from competing in women’s sports. This past October Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill that would ban K-12 Trans youth from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity.

“This statute change clearly addresses the flaw in the current regulation that surgical changes and hormonal therapy of any length of time reduces the physical advantage that a biological male has over a biological female,” said Senator Mills.

While Mills was unaware of any issues regarding participation in sports by transgender females in Kentucky, “there are parents of female athletes that are concerned about this happening in our state,” he said.

“I believe there are openings to where a biological male could be competing as a female in their junior and senior year in high school after they meet the qualifications that are in the regulations currently,” he told WDRB.

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Kentucky

Queer arts collective accused of desecrating Christian space flees

A group of “eight or nine” entered the chapel “because we wanted to make sure the House of The Lord wasn’t being disrespected” 

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Pine Mountain Settlement School’s Charlotte F. Hedges Memorial Chapel, designed by architect Mary Rockwell Hook was built 1922-24. Italian immigrant Luigi Zande, a stonemason, worked on the building. (Photo from Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections)

By  Jamie Lucke | HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. – An Appalachian arts nonprofit’s gathering at Pine Mountain Settlement School in Harlan County ended abruptly last weekend after local residents objected to the group’s presence in the chapel, raising concerns among attendees about their safety.

statement issued by the Waymakers Collective says participants decided to end their annual assembly a day early “for the safety of everyone in attendance,” including the school’s staff.

The decision to leave came after “a group of white men and women in trucks and on ATVs from the surrounding” area blocked exit roads and paths and demanded that conference participants leave the chapel.

“We were shocked by this as we had rented out the entire campus of PMSS for our event and were treating the entire property with respect and in the manner we had communicated to PMSS prior to the event,” the Waymakers statement said.

Kentucky State Police and the Harlan County sheriff’s office were called to the scene Saturday but no charges or arrests were made.

Harlan County Sheriff Chris Brewer said deputies remained at the campus “for several hours out of precaution to keep the peace.” He also said his office is not conducting an investigation.

Statement from Harlan County Sheriff Chris Brewer:

“On Saturday August 19th, the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office received a call that a group who had rented the PMSS were in the chapel which was not part of the rental agreement. The staff requested assistance from HCSO just to be present and keep the peace as they asked the group to vacate the chapel. Upon the arrival of HCSO Deputies, KSP was already on scene and the group stated that the chapel was included in their rental agreement but they would voluntarily vacate the chapel. HCSO Deputies remained at PMSS for several hours out of precaution to keep the peace. At this time there is no criminal investigation being conducted by HCSO.“

The  confrontation has already cost the school one event. Nicole Garneau, organizer of the Rebellious Performance Retreat, said she is moving the five-day immersive theater workshop from Pine Mountain Settlement School, where it had been scheduled to be held over Labor Day weekend.

“I cannot host a retreat dedicated to supporting artists working on challenging material in a place where we do not feel safe,” Garneau told the Lantern in an email. “I will be sharing the new location of the retreat only with people who are registered.” 

A statement released Wednesday by the Pine Mountain Settlement School said that photos of the conference posted on social media, especially of the chapel, “upset some members of the local community, who interpreted this as non-Christian.” They reached out to interim director Jason Brashear and board of trustees chair James Greene who asked the Waymakers to vacate the chapel.

“The Collective agreed they would relocate the space at their next class break. However, some community members decided on their own to come to campus, entering the chapel, and blocking access to buildings and roads,” says the PMSS statement.

The statement, printed below, says the school “is reviewing its policies and procedures to ensure that this type of misunderstanding does not occur in the future and to ensure the safety of all guests, visitors, and staff. Pine Mountain will continue its tradition of being open and welcoming to all as well as to promote mutual understanding among all those it serves.”

Founded in 1913 and set on 800 acres, the Pine Mountain Settlement School is a national historic landmark. It once served as a boarding school for young Kentuckians; its residence and dining halls and other buildings still host visitors and events throughout the year, including wildflower and fall color weekends.

Brashear, the interim director, said 5,000 students visited last year to hike, study nature and learn square dancing and crafts.

The Kentucky Arts Council provides operating support to the school “from state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts,” according to the PMSS website.

The Kentucky Natural Lands Trust, which raises money to preserve Kentucky forests and natural habitats, has held artists weekends at the campus. The land trust, Kentucky songwriter Daniel Martin Moore and 40 musicians teamed up in 2019 to produce a double album titled “Pine Mountain Sessions” recorded in the school’s chapel which benefited KNLT and the school.

The Waymakers Collective, which says it has distributed more than $1 million in grants to Appalachian artists and arts organizations, describes itself as “a multiracial group that is also inclusive of queer and trans people.” 

The Waymakers’ statement said that for its annual gathering the chapel had been set up as space “for rest and quiet reflection” and “healing.”

“The set up of the room included pillows, meditation cushions, soothing lights, plants, crystals, and some artwork including a painting that included an ‘Om’ symbol,” the statement said.

“It was a spa-like environment to help facilitate restorativeness, rest, and reflection.” 

“Our coordinator specifically asked if there were any special instructions that should be honored in the chapel,” the statement says. “The only instructions given were not to move the pews as the floors were recently resurfaced. Our team requested two tables in the chapel to display aromatherapy oils and other items for the participants, and upon our arrival, the tables were set up by the PMSS staff.”

On Saturday, a few conference participants were “gathered in the chapel to rest: taking naps or sitting in quiet reflection or prayer” when two men and a woman who were not part of the group entered and sat apart watching, said the statement.

More people arrived, said the statement, and conference attendees were told that they were “desecrating a Christian space” amid demands that they leave, according to the statement, which also said the local residents used “their vehicles to block the roads and paths to exit.”

The settlement school staff intervened and separated the two groups, said the statement.

“The group of people who entered the chapel stayed for over an hour, often lingering on the outside of where we were gathered as though to tell us we were not welcome and were being watched,” the statement said.

The statement says they later learned that Facebook posts had accused the group of “desecrating the chapel and other horrible allegations that simply are not true.”

The weekly Tri-City News, also of Harlan County, in an article posted on its Facebook page, reported that Bledsoe resident Tate Napier said that he was part of a group of “eight or nine” who entered the chapel “because we wanted to make sure the House of The Lord wasn’t being disrespected.” 

Napier is quoted as saying, “The people in the chapel said they were doing nothing wrong, and I asked if they were in there to worship Jesus, and a few started raising their voices at me, so I told them to just get their stuff — that we weren’t there to argue, and I even helped them gather their things and pack them to their cars. After that all happened, the state police and sheriff deputies showed up, and they agreed to stay out of the chapel, but then, ultimately, they decided to leave because they said they felt unsafe.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Napier posted on his Facebook page that he had received a lot of requests from reporters and journalists — the Lantern sent him a direct message via Facebook — seeking interviews but that he had decided to “leave it” with the interview he gave “a local journalist” on Saturday.

“The news and social media are tools the devil uses the most to stir up division, and I don’t want to partake in anymore,” he said.

Garneau, an actor who has performed at the settlement school, said the decision to cancel the Labor Day weekend performance retreat had left her angry and sad.

“I have attended many wonderful gatherings at Pine Mountain Settlement School, many of which were dedicated to social and racial justice. Rural Eastern Kentucky needs a place like PMSS where people can come together to make Kentucky, and the world, a better place,” she said. 

“I am angry and sad that some members of the Harlan community decided to violate a sacred space for healing, and in so doing, traumatize an entire community of folks gathered at PMSS. I fear this will have repercussions for years to come.” 

The Waymakers Collective statement ended with an invitation to the settlement school staff and leadership to “think, with us, about how to ensure Pine Mountain Settlement School continues to be the inclusive, beautiful, and hospitable place it has historically been for many of us — including how best to communicate with potential guests what your boundaries are for the use of your campus.”

Pine Mountain Settlement School statement on events of Aug. 19, 2023

“On the weekend of August 18th, the Waymakers Collective, an Appalachian Arts and Culture Assembly, rented the facilities and grounds of Pine Mountain Settlement School for their annual retreat. While this group was engaged in their meeting, several images were posted on the Waymakers’ social media, depicting their classes and events. The images, particularly those showing a healing space set up in the chapel, upset some members of the local community, who interpreted this as non-Christian. They reached out to the School’s Interim Director and, later, the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

To address these concerns and avoid misunderstanding, the Interim Director and Chair of the Board asked the Waymakers Collective to relocate their healing space to another building. The Collective agreed they would relocate the space at their next class break. However, some community members decided on their own to come to campus, entering the chapel, and blocking access to buildings and roads. The Waymakers Collective felt threatened and called law enforcement.

The Interim Director was out of town but in communication with all parties throughout the afternoon. The School’s program lead came to campus to help defuse the situation. She arrived before law enforcement and isolated each group, listened to each group’s concerns, and communicated those to the Interim Director. It was decided that the chapel would remain vacant and be locked to avoid further conflict. Most community members had left by the time the authorities arrived. Afterwards, the Waymakers Collective ended their retreat early and left campus.

This incident happened at a private function on the Pine Mountain Settlement School campus.  The Waymakers Collective was responsible for the planning and content of their retreat. The School prepared meals and offered lodging and meeting space.

Pine Mountain was founded upon principles of the social settlement movement, which stressed building bridges between people of diverse backgrounds and circumstances, promoting mutual respect and understanding, and coming together to promote the common good.   The School, across its hundred and ten years, has operated in keeping with this tradition. In 2016, the Board of Trustees adopted the following set of core values reflective of Pine Mountain’s settlement heritage, developed collaboratively by staff, trustees and community members.

CORE VALUES

Education
We provide immersive and practical educational experiences for all ages because education changes lives.

Fellowship
We strive to build bridges between people of diverse backgrounds promoting an exchange of culture, ideas and history to generate mutual respect and learning.

Community
We collaborate with our communities on common goals fostering self-respect and neighborliness and building leadership capacity.

Stewardship
We steward our natural and built environment, providing inspiration and tools for others to join with us to protect life on earth.

Spirituality
We draw on our historically inclusive Christian spirit to create a place where bodies, hearts and minds can grow.

Pine Mountain Settlement School will always be an inclusive space for those who strive to explore, learn, or break bread together. We have not—and will never—share the values of those who oppress, endanger, or silence others, and we will continue to welcome everyone to our historic campus in a manner consistent with our mission and tradition. The School is reviewing its policies and procedures to ensure that this type of misunderstanding does not occur in the future and to ensure the safety of all guests, visitors, and staff.  Pine Mountain will continue its tradition of being open and welcoming to all as well as to promote mutual understanding among all those it serves.”

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Jamie Lucke has more than 40 years of experience as a journalist. Her editorials for the Lexington Herald-Leader won Walker Stone, Sigma Delta Chi and Green Eyeshade awards. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky.

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The preceding piece was previously published by the Kentucky Lantern and is republished with permission.

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Kentucky lawmakers override veto, anti-LGBTQ+ bill now law

“While we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court. And we are winning in so many other ways”

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Students and Trans advocates from all across Kentucky made their voices heard Wednesday to opposing SB150 (Photo Credit: Fairness Campaign)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Both chambers of the Kentucky Legislature voted Wednesday to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto on Senate Bill 150, a sweeping bill that would severely restrict the lives of trans youth in the state.

The law will:

  • Ban gender-affirming medical care, including treatments that delay puberty, other forms of hormone therapy and surgery, for trans and nonbinary people under 18 years old. 
  • Require revoking the licenses of doctors who provide such services.
  • Tell public schools to block trans students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
  • Allow public school teachers to misgender trans students.
  • Prevent public schools from allowing educational presentations that study gender identity or sexual orientation.
Governor Andy Beshear (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

Democratic Governor Andy Beshear stressed that the bill conflicted with his faith and noted the bill’s repercussions would include an increase in LGBTQ+ youth suicides: “My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.” Beshear also called it, “too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”

Protestors rally in front of Kentucky State Capitol building prior to votes on SB 150 (Photo Credit: Fairness Campaign)

In an emailed statement to the Blade, Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman reflected on the Assembly’s actions:

“While we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court. And we are winning in so many other ways. Thousands of Kentucky kids came to the Capitol today to make their voices heard against the worst anti-trans bill in the nation. They are our hope for a Kentucky future that is more fair, more just, and more beautifully diverse and accepting than ever before.

I applaud the brave protesters who stood their ground in the Kentucky House gallery today before being removed by Kentucky State Troopers. Their chants and pain were heard by all in the chamber and were a necessary show of the grief and harm Senate Bill 150 will cause. Transgender children and their families in Kentucky are scared, rightfully so. We will do all we can to ensure they can continue to access the life-saving medical care they deserve.”

According to the Fairness Campaign Executive Director, “Brave, devastated protesters held each other in solidarity & chanted for 30 minutes in the House gallery before being taken out in zip ties by State Troopers.”

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Kentucky Gov. vetoes sweeping anti-transgender youth bill

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. The ACLU has said it will sue if that happens

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Governor Andy Beshear (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor/Facebook)

FRANKFORT – The Democratic governor of Kentucky vetoed a sweeping bill that would severely restrict the lives of trans youth in the state calling it, “too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”

Governor Andy Beshear also stressed that the bill conflicted with his faith and noted the bill’s repercussions would include an increase in LGBTQ+ youth suicides: “My faith teaches me that all children are children of God and Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky.”

The Kentucky Legislature’s GOP supermajorities have enough power to override Beshear’s veto. The ACLU of Kentucky has said it will sue in Federal court to try to block the measure from becoming law.

The bill would:

  • Ban gender-affirming medical care, including treatments that delay puberty, other forms of hormone therapy and surgery, for trans and nonbinary people under 18 years old. 
  • Require revoking the licenses of doctors who provide such services.
  • Tell public schools to block trans students from using bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
  • Allow public school teachers to misgender trans students.
  • Prevent public schools from allowing educational presentations that study gender identity or sexual orientation.

Rebuking the Governor’s veto, state Republican Party spokesperson Sean Southard issued a statement saying: “Andy Beshear thinks it’s okay for children to have access to life-altering sex change surgery and drugs before they turn 18. Today, he revealed how radical he truly is.”

In an emailed statement Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman wrote:

“We are so grateful Governor Andy Beshear chose to stand with Kentucky kids and their families today by vetoing Senate Bill 150. He has once again solidified his legacy as Kentucky’s most pro-equality governor. Labeled the “worst anti-trans bill in the nation,” SB150 allows the government to overrule parental rights at every turn. It denies parents the right to provide medically-supported healthcare for their kids. It allows teachers and school administrators to disrespect students by ignoring their names and pronouns, despite a parent’s wishes. It bans the discussion of LGBTQ topics in the classroom and forces transgender kids into unsafe restrooms at school. SB150 will only lead to disaster and despair for transgender Kentucky kids and their families. That’s why thousands of Kentuckians sent messages opposing SB150 and countless Kentucky doctors showed up in Frankfort to testify against it. We urge state lawmakers to read the governor’s veto message, listen to medical professionals, and sustain Governor Beshear’s veto.”

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Kentucky Republicans pass extreme anti-trans youth healthcare bill

“This is a sissy bill. I voted yes but I wanted more teeth in it.” Kentucky Republican State Rep. Richard White (Dist.99)

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"This is a sissy bill. I voted yes but I wanted more teeth in it." Kentucky State Rep. Richard White, (R-Dist. 99) said during debate on anti-trans bill. (Screenshot/KY Gov. TV)

FRANKFORT, KY. – In a maneuver LGBTQ+ activists and Democrats called deceitful, Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature rushed through Senate Bill 150 Thursday, an anti-transgender measure first in an unannounced House Education Committee meeting in a 16-5 vote and then to the House floor where it again passed along party lines 75-22 and limited debate before moving the legislation to the Senate where it passed 30-7 on a nearly party line vote.

The initial legislation, HB 470 had been effectively tabled Wednesday night as the result of discord among the Republicans. In Thursday’s limited debate on the House floor, Rep. Keturah Herron, a Black LGBTQ lawmaker decried the fact that there was no notifications which made it appear as though Republicans were jamming the bill through without the Democrats present.

Journalist and columnist Erin Reed noted that the bill itself contains several provisions and combines many anti-trans bills into a single, all-encompassing piece of legislation that targets many aspects of the lives of trans youth.

One provision states that schools cannot adopt policies that “keep information confidential from parents,” a policy which will be used to forcibly out transgender students. Another states that school districts can’t require students to use any pronouns for trans students that do not conform to that student’s “biological sex.”

The bill contains teaching bans on LGBTQ+ topics similar to Don’t Say Gay bills, would force schools to turn over student’s answers to private questionnaires and surveys, bans students from bathrooms not matching their gender identities, calls trans students in locker rooms “unsafe,” and bans gender affirming care for trans youth.

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that schools would not be allowed to discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students of any age – a key provision of “Don’t Say Gay” bills across the country. Schools would not be allowed to talk about sexually transmitted diseases or human sexuality before sixth grade and would need to require parental consent in sixth grade and up.

Another provision requires school districts to craft bathroom policies that, “at a minimum,” will not allow trans kids to use the bathroom tied to their gender identities.

The Courier-Journal also noted that

SB 150’s initial provisions, including one allowing teachers to misgender their students, remain intact. A new section added a ban on gender-affirming medical care for trans youths, despite medical experts and their professional associations saying such care is safe and effective treatment for children with gender dysphoria.

Doctors would be required to set a timeline to detransition children already taking puberty blockers or undergoing hormone therapy. They would be allowed to continue offering care as they taper a child’s treatments, if immediately taking them off the treatment could harm the child, the bill says.

“It is appalling to see Kentucky lawmakers work so hastily on dangerous legislation that will only put young LGBTQ Kentuckians in harm’s way. In the last year, nearly half of LGBTQ youth in Kentucky seriously considered suicide — alarmingly, nearly 1 in 4 transgender and nonbinary youth in the state made a suicide attempt. Our leaders are pushing political wedge issues and sidestepping the real challenges like addressing the youth mental health crisis,” said Troy Stevenson, Director of State Advocacy Campaigns for The Trevor Project.

“The Kentucky Legislature should not be inserting itself into critical decisions best left to parents and doctors by imposing a blanket ban on best-practice medical care. They should be working to increase access to essential care and creating safer, more affirming spaces for LGBTQ Kentuckians — not further stigmatizing or endangering an already marginalized group of young people. We urge the Governor to reject this harmful legislation and send a message to the young LGBTQ Kentuckians watching these debates that they belong in this state.”

Local media reported that the moment the SB150 officially cleared the Senate, spectators in the gallery opposed to the anti-LGBTQ measure screamed and shouted expletives at the lawmakers on the floor below.

The bill now heads to Democratic Governor Andy Beshear, who has ten days to either veto or sign the measure into law. The governor is widely expected to veto the bill.

The Republican-led legislature, however, will be able to override his veto when it returns for the final two days of the legislative session on March 29 and 30.

The ACLU of Kentucky called the bill “unconstitutional,” vowing legal action should it become law.

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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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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 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

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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