Kentucky General Assembly overrides governors Veto of Anti-Trans Sports Bill

Today, the Kentucky legislature voted to override Governor Andy Beshear’s veto of Senate Bill 83 and enact the measure as law, banning transgender girls from participating in sports alongside their peers from sixth grade through college. 

After months of protesting, debating, and political games, The Kentucky General Assembly passed anti-trans Senate Bill 83. Kentucky Governor, Andy Beshear vetoed the bill early in April.

The bill sought to ban transgender girls from playing on sports teams in Kentucky schools that match their gender identities from sixth grade through college. According to a Fairness Campaign press release, The Kentucky Senate approved Bill 83 on a final concurrence vote of 25-9 on March 24. Language from another anti-trans bill, HB23, was merged into this single Senate Bill.

The Fairness Campaign releases the following statement from Executive Director Chris Hartman:

“Shame on the Kentucky General Assembly for attacking trans kids today. Shame on our commonwealth’s lawmakers for passing the first explicitly anti-LGBTQ law in Kentucky in almost a decade.
“Today, the state legislature voted to override Gov. Beshear’s veto and enact a discriminatory sports ban into law, depriving transgender girls of the opportunity to play on a school sports team, simply because of who they are.

“This law singles out the one openly transgender girl in Kentucky’s entire school system who plays on a school sports team. She started her school’s field hockey team, recruited all of the other team members, and just wanted the opportunity to play with her friends. Now Kentucky lawmakers have intervened to stop her from playing with her friends her eighth grade year.

“This bill has been so plainly about political gain and using Kentucky kids as political pawns that it is an embarrassment to our commonwealth. Instead of solving any of Kentucky’s real problems, the politicians behind this bill used their power to bully this one student and take away rights from kids who just want to play games with friends. The bill is a carbon copy of the anti-trans bills sweeping the nation this past year and ignores the policies that were already in place to ensure an equal playing field for student-athletes.

“Kentuckians deserve lawmakers that protect all kids in our community, including transgender children. The enactment of this law makes clear that the rights of transgender people and kids in Kentucky are in danger. We’re deeply committed to fighting back against this discriminatory bill and ensuring equal rights for everyone in our state.

“The fight won’t stop here. We applaud Governor Andy Beshear and all those who stood on the side of justice, including several Republicans voting alongside Democrats in the Kentucky Senate and House to uphold the governor’s veto. We look forward to the lawsuit that’s sure to come. If we can’t protect Kentucky’s trans kids in our legislature, we’ll protect them in our courts.”

Statement from GLAAD’s Regional Media Lead, U.S. South, Serena Sonoma

“Kentucky legislators are sending an unmistakable and cruel message to LGBTQ Kentuckians and all Americans that they stand strongly against LGBTQ rights. Laws like this send messages that make LGBTQ people less safe, including children. Every child needs to hear the message that you belong, sports are for everyone, and everyone wins when everyone is included.”

Lawmakers should listen to the experts in medicine, sports, education and child development, and support ways to make sure every kid feels welcome to play. This bill hurts all children and Kentucky’s future as a place to grow and succeed.”

GLAAD has a Guide for Media Covering anti-LGBTQ Legislation here. GLAAD’s checklist for accurate coverage includes recommendations to seek facts from experts in sports, education and medicine over opinions from public figures; to include LGBTQ voices in all stories about LGBTQ issues, and include LGBTQ parents and families in discussions about “parents’ rights;” and include context about bills’ impact on vulnerable youth.

Research to include in your coverage:

  • Every major medical association including the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics support access to school sports as important for children’s physical, social and emotional growth. 
  • Women athletes overwhelmingly support trans inclusion. In December 2020, nearly 200 leading women athletes including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe, and Candace Parker submitted a legal brief urging support for trans women and girls in sports and opposing anti-trans sports legislation and policies. In 2021, GLAAD and Athlete Ally released a letter signed by over 550 college athletes (mostly women) who demanded the NCAA pull events from states with anti-trans school sports bans.
  • The International Olympic Committee released guidelines in November 2021 to prioritize safety and inclusion for transgender people, after consultation with medical, legal, sports and human rights experts, and determined that “no athlete has an inherent advantage over another due to their gender identity, sex variations, or appearance.”
  • 85% of transgender and nonbinary youth — and two-thirds of all LGBTQ youth (66%) — say debates in the states restricting rights of transgender people negatively impacted their mental health.
  • In multiple states proposing legislation in 2021, lawmakers could not cite a single instance of trans inclusion in sports being an issue in their states. Media should continue to ask public figures for evidence of specific problems in their states.
  • Media should check bill language for how proponents propose to enforce the bills, including whether there are required anatomy screenings that hurt all children.
  • Anti-LGBTQ legal groups (classified as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center) support these bills, often with identical language state to state. A designated hate group, ADF, has filed lawsuits using demonstrably false claims to attack transgender inclusion in state-level bills.
  • There are no reported instances of transgender students “taking scholarships” from other students. Anyone claiming this should be asked for evidence.
  • Research shows participation of girls in sports overall is higher in states with trans-inclusive policies.

2022 is already a record-setting year for state legislation targeting LGBTQ people, with more than 283 anti-LGBTQ bills proposed. This follows 2021’s record of proposed bills targeting transgender Americans’ access to education, athletics, healthcare, and bathrooms. 

  • Freedom for All Americans tracks anti-LGBTQ legislation across the U.S.
  • Polls show wide support for laws protecting LGBTQ people – 76%. Less than one in five Americans (19%) oppose nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans. 
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