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Kentucky Schools in Chaos Over Conflicting Directions on Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Kentucky Schools in Chaos Over Conflicting Directions on Anti-LGBTQ+ Law

Kentucky School board and pride flags

Republican lawmakers couldn’t get the law passed and enacted quickly enough, but are now facing the ramifications of their knee-jerk, rushed reaction.

The Kentucky Department of Education released guidance on Monday that will assist districts in implementing state lawmakers’ anti-LGBTQ law passed last month.

Senate Bill 150 includes new policies prohibiting transgender students from using school restrooms and changing rooms based on their gender identity. Further, the measure bans gender-affirming medical care for minors.

Major medical associations say gender-affirming care is necessary health care for trans youth.

The guidance notes that the new law could stand at odds with federal protections regarding student privacy and gender discrimination.

“I understand that this guidance does not answer all the questions you may have,” the Kentucky Commissioner of Education Jason Glass wrote in guidance to districts over which he has jurisdiction, Kentucky NPR station WKMS reports.

He added that the measure “[leaves] lots of unknowns about how these laws are going to be enacted in schools.”

“Some of the questions ultimately may be decided in court or by clarifying future legislation,” Glass wrote.

The guidance also reaches into the classroom. A new policy informed districts not to teach fifth graders about reproductive body parts and puberty.

Since SB 150 forbids lessons on human sexuality and sexually transmitted infections in grades five and under, these subjects can’t be discussed.

In response to the new law, the department will need to modify its current fifth-grade academic standard, which mandates students to understand fundamental reproductive anatomy and its functions and the psychological, social, and physical changes accompanying puberty.

Districts are also told under the new law not to discuss “gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.”

However, the department fails to provide specific guidance about how districts should apply new restrictions regarding trans students’ access to restrooms and locker room changing facilities, citing that there may exist a contradiction between state and federal law.

“School districts should remain aware of the legal landscape applicable to transgender students, including current and proposed Title IX regulations,” the guidance reads.

“Districts should consult with board counsel for legal advice regarding the policies required by SB 150 and potential liability concerns,” the document continues.

Furthermore, KDE recommends districts keep federal protections in mind when assessing policies regarding student pronouns.

With SB 150, the department could not provide its own pronoun guidance. KDE’s earlier guidance to schools to use students’ preferred pronouns prompted considerable attacks by conservative lawmakers.

The bill prohibits districts from having policies to keep students’ information confidential from parents, a provision that could clash with federal privacy laws.

Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, vetoed the bill, which included an emergency clause requiring immediate implementation. Overriding the veto, Republican legislators successfully rammed the legislation using their supermajority.

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