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Ky. Gov. Signs 'Religious Freedom' Bill That Allows Discrimination Against LGBT Students

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The bill allows for religious school groups to reject LGBT students.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has signed a bill that allows student groups at high schools and public universities to bar LGBT people from their organizations on religious grounds, reports The Washington Blade.

Senate Bill 17, which Bevin signed into law Monday, came in response to a school's deletion of a Bible verse from a student production of A Charlie Brown Christmas, reports the newspaper. The measure is intended to protect students' religious freedom, allowing then to express their religious opinions, wear clothing that has religious meaning, and use school media to disseminate information about faith groups' meetings.

The law also makes it so "no recognized religious or political student organization is discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs," which means religious groups are able to reject LGBT students if they so desired, reports the Blade.

The Human Rights Campaign spoke out against Bevin's decision to sign the bill. "Governor Bevin's shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes nondiscrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities," said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow. "No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ. While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds."

These "all-comers" nondiscrimination policies are in place at many Kentucky schools, "prohibiting student groups from refusing membership to other students, such as an LGBT student, based on a discriminatory reason as long as these groups rely on student resources," the Blade notes.

A law similar to the one Bevin just signed is in place in Kansas, and such legislation is under consideration in some other states.

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