Republican legislators in Kentucky have overridden Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of one of the strictest anti-LGBTQ+ bills in the nation, making it law.
Senate Bill 150 includes a ban on all gender-affirming care for minors plus a prohibition on public school instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity at all grade levels. It also requires school districts to “at a minimum” bar trans students from using the restrooms comporting with their gender identity and mandates that school personnel tell parents about confidential discussions with students about sexual orientation or gender identity, essentially forcing the outing of these students. It further lets teachers ignore students’ chosen pronouns.
Kentucky’s Republican-majority House and Senate overrode Beshear’s veto by large margins in voting Wednesday, and the law goes into effect immediately. During debate and voting, the House gallery was filled with protesters, 19 of whom were arrested on charges of third-degree criminal trespassing, the Associated Press reports. They chanted slogans including “Trans kids are under attack — what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”
Several Democratic legislators spoke out passionately against the bill, as journalist and activist contributor Erin Reed and other sources report. “None of us said we would come here to hurt people!” said Rep. Pamela Stevenson, adding, “Somebody’s going to have to atone!” Rep. Josie Raymond called the measure “cruel and inhumane” and decried “out-of-state hucksters” who had come in to drum up support for it.
Civil rights activists immediately condemned the override and promised legal action against the new law. “While we lost the battle in the legislature, our defeat is temporary. We will not lose in court,” Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, Kentucky’s statewide LGBTQ+ group, said in a statement. “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.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky also vowed to “take this fight to the courts,” the AP notes.
Cathryn Oakley, the Human Rights Campaign’s state legislative director and senior counsel, released this statement: “Kentucky’s legislators show no shame. This discriminatory bill — which they snuck through the legislature in the final hours of session — is nothing but a desperate and cruel effort by extremist politicians in Kentucky to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth. These politicians have no place inserting themselves in conversations between doctors, parents, and transgender youth about gender affirming care; they have no place inside a middle school bathroom stall either. This bill would terrorize transgender youth in schools, in doctor’s offices, and even could put them in danger at home.
“Gov. Beshear heard the voices of transgender kids, their families, and medical experts and chose to treat transgender children with dignity and respect. But Kentucky’s legislators are instead ignoring their pleas and are continuing their discriminatory attacks on vulnerable children.”
Kentucky Democratic Sen. Karen Berg also released a statement through HRC. “Trans children exist and trans children deserve to be allowed to exist,” she said. “Today, Kentucky’s legislators have chosen to promote hate and disinformation instead of standing up to it."
Berg’s transgender son, Henry Berg-Brousseau, died by suicide last December at age 24. He had been an HRC employee. Sen. Berg has often delivered impassioned speeches against anti-LGBTQ+ bills.
Other states that states have outlawed most or all gender-affirming care for trans minors through legislation are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, South DakotaTennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Florida has put a ban in place through its medical boards and is considering a bill for an even stricter measure. The Alabama and Arkansas bans are temporarily blocked by court action. Bans are pending in several other states.
Pamela Stevenson speaks out.
A protester is arrested.
Protesters in the gallery