FEB 16 UPDATE:
Chris Hartman, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign, said that SB 150 was our most immediate threat. He was right.
The bill was approved in committee already, but bill sponsor, Max Wise R-Campbellsville, wanted to add some technical corrections. Max Wise is also the running mate of Kelly Craft, coal baron Joe Craft’s wife running for governor this year.
Karen Berg was in attendance of the debate, soon after mourning the loss of her transgender son who died by suicide. Chris Hartman, Executive Director of the Fairness Campaign, was also in attendance, and he joined Berg and others in emotionally advocating against this bill.
The bill passed again in committee on February 16th, 2023 with a vote of 9 to 3. The full Senate then passed it in a vote of 29 to 6.
The bill will be voted on by the full House next.
As of this week, there are 9 bills that are anti-LGBTQ+ making their way through the Kentucky state legislature. There are 3 in support of LGBTQ+ and fairness.Let’s take a gander, shall we?
Tell your State Senator & State Representative that you support or oppose these bills!
KNOWN AS PRO-QUEER
SB 130 and HB 293 would enact a Statewide Fairness Law, comprehensive civil rights legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression ACROSS ALL OF KENTUCKY
HB 162 is known as “The Youth Mental Health Protection Act,” which would prohibit healthcare providers or mental health workers from engaging in or referring a patient to any form of “sexual orientation and gender identity change efforts,” especially for minors. The bill prohibits public funds, such as state and local money, from being given to organizations or groups that practice conversion therapy or donate to institutions that practice it.
KNOWN AS ANTI-QUEER
SB 150 is the bill that is “the most immediate threat” according to the Fairness Campaign’s Executive Director, Chris Hartman. This bill would prohibit school staff and students from being required to use pronouns for gender non-conforming students, as well as increase parental rights in regard to dictating their child’s use of pronouns.
HB 30 would put heavy restrictions and surveillance on bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower rooms for transgender individuals. It is also stipulated that there are consequences for using facilities designated to the sex not assigned on an unedited birth certificate. This is not only obviously targeting trans students and their mere existence as a person with bodily functions, but also a safety issue in the realm of sexual abuse and other issues via such surveillance.
HB 58 would allow medical providers to decline to perform, participate in, and pay for procedures that violate their “conscience,” which is of course subjective and could be used to discriminate against anyone (namely Black, brown, and Indigenous people of color). Further, this bill exempts providers from liability for exercising the right to discriminate, which leads to another slippery slope that could be used to protect anyone who is denying services based on discrimination.
HB 120 would prevent minors under 18 from having access to gender transition procedures, as well as limit access to any coverage for gender-affirming care. Access to gender-affirming surgical procedures and hormone regulation therapy is the difference between life and death for many queer youths. This bill would regulate and criminalize the existence of trans youth who have access to gender-affirming care.
SB 115 would regulate both access to and locations of “adult-oriented businesses,” which include venues that host drag performances. A similar bill is moving through Tennessee right now, illustrating how concerted these attacks are. Effectively, this bill would shut down drag bars, eliminate drag from PRIDE festivals, and discourage bars from hosting drag performances. Drag is a historic art that has been practiced for centuries, and this bill would further require some kind of judicial definition of “drag.” Such a slippery slope that defines gender roles, make no mistake, affects cisgender people as well as those who are gender non-conforming.
HB 173 expands on the conservative education movement advocating for “parental choice” in various areas related to their children’s education. This facade began with discussions surrounding Critical Race Theory, then moved to the removal of media depicting anything LGBTQ+ from school libraries and classrooms. What is behind the thinly veiled facade is white supremacy and fascism that seeks to regulate people whose existence challenges the social order and hierarchy that capitalism’s success (and exploitation) depends on us to follow.
HB 177 effectively combines traditional “Don’t Say Gay” bills with privacy laws, forcing teachers to out queer children to their parents (regardless of safety concerns) and banning any discussion of LGBTQ+ topics – including simply that someone is a member of the community. Such bills serve to erase and marginalize queer individuals, resulting in consequences that will inevitably result in and perpetrate violence against queer people.
SB 102 would increase parents’ rights as it regards to a child’s health, “establish a cause of action for a child encountering a person of the opposite biological sex while in a location where they have a reasonable expectation of bodily privacy,” and limit faculty and staff’s ability to discuss sexual orientation, preference, and gender expression. It also includes provisions for parents’ right for a child not to be exposed to “obscene” matters. This could include not only issues of sexual orientation, but climate, immigration, and even science issues. It prohibits the “indoctrination” of a student to any “partisan political position,” without noting that freedom of gender expression is, itself, a partisan political issue. It also prohibits anyone from being forced to use pronouns requested by the student if those pronouns vary from the student’s biological gender.
HB 204 Is a sweeping religious freedom bill that would allow people to discriminate against LGBTQ+, Black, brown, and indigenous people. This bill could dismantle all of Kentucky’s 24 fairness ordinances.
People from all over Kentucky gathered at the state capitol today to lobby their legislators and committees, as well as to rally at the rotunda in 2023’s Fairness Rally. Andy Beshear, Governor of Kentucky, spoke on the atrocity of these bills. He said, “Everyone is our neighbor, no exception.” He continued to speak to the queer youth and individuals in the room, “You are important, no matter what this legislation says.”
Lieutenant Governor, Jacqueline Coleman, added to the rally by saying that “schools should be safe havens… and our kids are not pawns in their political game.” Further, to queer Kentuckians, Coleman added, “You belong here. You belong here as long as the governor and I are in office.”
The first openly LGBTQ+ legislator in Kentucky, Keturah Herron, also spoke. Herron wanted to “lift up the lives that have been lost due to anti-queer, anti-trans, anti-humanity, and flat-out foolishness from a small and loud group of people… We honor those lives lost, and we will not move. Daily, we continue to fight…”
Each of these bills depends on asserting rights over our bodies that our government should not have the right to exercise. Anyone who cares about liberty or freedom should care about opposing every single one of these bills, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender expression. With these legislators flexing their muscles on these infringements of civil rights, it is important to recognize: just because they are coming for us right now does not mean that they are not plotting how to come for you next.
These people will try to make us and our youth pawns in their political game, but regardless of how scary and big these attacks feel, they do not get to decide the rules. They look like they have the power, but they do not.