Alarming “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” Bills Legislatively Introduced in Kentucky as Attack on Queer Existence 

by Belle Townsend

Introduced yesterday, Kentucky House Bills 173 and 177 fall under the umbrella of “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” bills that have been sweeping the nation. This fight has been in Kentucky, but it has been taken to an even higher and more alarming level. 

House Bill 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. 

House Bill 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.

“The battle lines have clearly been drawn in Frankfort,” said Fairness Campaign’s Executive Director, Chris Hartman.

There is a war being raged against the existence of queer individuals in the United States. But, as Hartman points out, what is going on in Kentucky is bigger than that.

“These are ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bills on steroids… These are so much more than what we first saw with the bills down in Florida. These are hydras of hate,” he said. Hartman also shared insight into the heartbreaking truth that up front listening to these cruel bills was Karen Berg, Kentucky senator, and mother of a transgender, activist son who recently died by suicide. The layers of cruelty present with these bills cannot be overstated.

There has been a war against queer people since there was a status quo to maintain, and we are at a place in history yet again where we are asking: when will we stop the pattern of marginalizing and ultimately killing queer people? Under capitalism, white supremacy, and fascism, queerness will always be a target because it does not fit within the status quo. This pattern is going to keep going until we grow beyond the social constructs that keep creating our persecution, marginalization, and erasure. But, first, we have to fight.

For the next 30 days of this legislative session, there will likely be multiple more bills filed in Kentucky that fall under this umbrella of “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” bills. Keep your eye out, and remember: history is always being made one way or the other. Let’s consider how we want to be remembered. 

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