Republican majority passes sweeping anti-trans bill in Kentucky

The amended Senate Bill 150 has language from other bills that would impact trans youth, including banning gender-affirming care.

March 15, 2023 – Margaret Vancampen, Joseph Garcia, Connor Steffen

The amended Senate Bill 150 has language from other bills that would impact trans youth, including banning gender-affirming care.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — If you or someone you know needs help or support at this time, please contact the Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors, available 24/7, at 1-866-488-7386. You can also connect with the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860. You are not alone.

Despite pleas from LGBTQ+ activists and fellow lawmakers, a Republican majority passed a sweeping anti-trans bill in a 30-7 vote on Thursday.

GOP lawmakers passed an amended version of Senate Bill 150, which originally required schools to use a student’s pronouns based on their biological sex. 

If a transgender student wanted to use pronouns opposite to their biological sex, the school must notify their parents beforehand.

The amended bill included language from another anti-LGBTQ+ bill, House Bill 470, which bans gender-affirming care for trans youth.

Here’s what the amended version of the bill includes:

  • School districts must create explicit bathroom policies
  • Bans gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18, including surgical and non-surgical procedures like puberty blockers
  • Schools can’t discuss sexual orientation or gender identity with students regardless of age
  • If healthcare providers provide gender-affirming care to minors their licenses will be revoked
  • The school district would notify parents of any mental health services relating to human sexuality

Earlier Thursday afternoon, the bill passed a House committee vote 15-6. Many were visibly outraged and some lawmakers were in tears.

It was quickly sent off to the full House where it was debated for hours before finally passing and being sent back to the Senate for concurrence. 

A Republican majority in the Senate passed the controversial legislation, it now heads to Governor Andy Beshear’s desk where he is expected to veto the bill.

Advocates for transgender youth said the bill could cost Kentucky more young lives.

Recent polling by the Trevor Project, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ youth, found 86% of transgender and non-binary youth say debates about state laws restricting their rights have negatively impacted their mental health.

“I for one am sick of wasting our time on political point boogiemen for your reelection campaigns, while we harm real Kentuckians,” Democrat Rep. Rachel Roberts said on the House floor. 

However, those who support the bill continued to speak on the importance of parental involvement in young people’s lives.

“I think we have heard from many Kentuckians in support of this bill, I can show you an entire email box with messages from people in this state in support of this bill,” Rep. David Meade, R-80, said.

In a statewide Mason Dixon poll released by the Fairness Campaign, 71% of registered Kentucky voters oppose bills that allow the state to overrule parents’ decision to obtain certain healthcare for their transgender teenagers, such as certain medicines that regulate the onset of puberty.

What comes next?

Beshear is likely to veto the anti-LGBTQ+ bill. It’s to be seen if lawmakers choose to override his expected veto.

In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky (ACLU-KY) said the organization’s attorneys will continue to analyze the final bill.

“If this unconstitutional measure becomes law, our legal team stands ready to see the commonwealth in court,” officials said.

Interim Director Amber Duke said the ACLU remains committed to protecting the civil liberties of all Kentuckians.

“Legislators cannot erase transgender people from existence,” Duke said. “We will continue to fight for equal rights and equal protection under the law.”

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