Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, has vetoed a bill that would ban gender-affirming health care for transgender minors, limit school instruction on LGBTQ+ issues, and allow outing of LGBTQ+ students, but the Republican-controlled legislature could override his veto next week.
Beshear released a veto message Friday. “Senate Bill 150 allows too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children,” he wrote. “Senate Bill 150 further strips freedom from parents to make personal family decisions on the names their children are called and how people should refer to them.”
It also “turns educators and administrators into investigators,” he continued, forcing them to eavesdrop on student conversations and then confront their families. Overall, he said, the legislation would harm young Kentuckians in many ways, particularly that it would cause an increase in suicide.
SB 150, passed by legislators last week, 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.
Republican lawmakers hastily cobbled the bill together after it appeared that a similar anti-LGBTQ+ measure would fail to pass due to Republican infighting. Democratic legislators spoke out passionately against the bill, among them Sen. Karen Berg, whose transgender son, activist Henry Berg-Brousseau, died by suicide last year.
The Republican Party of Kentucky put out a statement condemning Beshear’s veto. “Most people agree that you need to be a certain age before participating in certain activities, like consuming alcohol or smoking cigarettes. ... Andy Beshear thinks its okay for children to have life-altering sex change surgery before they turn 18,” spokesperson Sean Shouthard said, according to The Courier-Journal of Louisville.
In truth, genital surgery is not recommended for minors and is almost never performed on them, while other treatments that would be manned by the bill, such as puberty blockers and hormones, are either fully or largely reversible.
Republicans in the legislature have enough votes to override Beshear’s veto when they return to session next Thursday and Friday, The Courier-Journal reports. Last year they overrode his veto of a trans-exclusionary sports bill.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has promised legal action against the bill if it becomes law, and one Kentucky man has already preemptively filed suit seeking to block its enforcement and have it declared unconstitutional.
States that have banned gender-affirming care for minors through legislation are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Mississippi, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. Florida has put one 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.