Kentucky lawmakers passed a comprehensive bill that prohibits doctors from providing sex changes for children, prevents schools from pushing transgender ideology onto students, and grants parents more authority and oversight over their children in the public education system.
Following Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the legislation, Republican lawmakers successfully overrode his veto with a 29-6 vote in the House and a 76-23 vote in the Senate. The new rules regarding health care will go into effect 90 days after the veto was overridden Wednesday, but many of the new education rules went into effect immediately.
“It should come as no surprise that Gov. Beshear put his party’s politics over the people of Kentucky, as he has done his whole political career,” Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, who sponsored the legislation, said in a statement.
“The goal of SB 150 is to strengthen parental engagement and communication in their children’s education,” Wise added. “This bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support, reinforces a positive atmosphere in the classroom and removes unnecessary distractions, like woke ideology and mandating use of specific pronouns in our schools.”
Medical providers will be barred from performing sterilizing surgery on patients under the age of 18 or performing surgery to remove a child’s genitals or altering the minor’s genitals to make them appear like the genitals of the opposite sex.
The rules prohibit doctors from removing any healthy or nondiseased body tissue. Additionally, medical providers cannot prescribe any drugs that would delay or halt normal puberty or prescribe estrogen or testosterone at levels greater than what would normally be found in a child of that sex and age.
The legislation provides exceptions for children who have sex development disorders, such as children born with ambiguous biological sex characteristics. The legislation also specifies that the rules do not prevent surgeries or drugs necessary to treat an infection, injury, disease, or disorder.
If a health care provider has already prescribed these drugs to a child, the law states that doctors can systematically reduce the drugs over a period of time if immediately halting the use of the drugs would be detrimental to the child’s health.
The legislation also prohibits schools from promoting transgender ideology through lessons that encourage the student to study or explore his or her gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. It also bans schools from providing lessons on human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases for students in the fifth grade or lower. Schools must receive written consent from parents before providing a student with lessons on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases in higher grades.
Per the legislation, schools must also ensure that bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, and showers are reserved for students based on the student’s biological sex. This prevents a student from using a facility that is not consistent with his or her biological sex, even if that student self-identifies with the opposite gender. The legislation notes that schools can accommodate transgender students in other ways, such as by providing single-stall restrooms.
“Parents have a reasonable expectation that schools will not allow minor children to be viewed in various states of undress by members of the opposite biological sex, nor allow minor children to view members of the opposite sex in various states of undress,” the legislation states.
When a student enrolls in a school, the school district must provide parents with a written list of all health services and mental health services they provide concerning human sexuality, family planning, and contraception. Parents will be allowed to withhold consent for or decline any of those services. If parents allow the school to provide those services, they do not waive their rights to access education and medical records.
Neither the Board of Education nor the local school district will be allowed to compel teachers or students to use a student’s preferred pronoun when it differs from the student’s biological sex, under these rules.
“Denying the truth that we are either male or female causes real harm to people, especially vulnerable children,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Matt Sharp said in a statement.
“The Kentucky Legislature enacted vital protections for young children and parents to ensure they can’t be pressured into agreeing to life-altering, so-called ‘gender transition’ procedures,” Sharp added. “Young people deserve to live in a society that doesn’t subject them to risky experiments to which they cannot effectively consent.”
Transgender activists opposed the legislation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky has announced it intends to file a lawsuit to block the enforcement of these new rules.
“[The bill] was rushed through the Legislature in a deliberately secretive process at the 11th hour,” a Kentucky ACLU statement read. “Trans Kentuckians, medical and mental health professionals, and accredited professional associations pleaded with lawmakers to listen to the experts, not harmful rhetoric based in fear and hate. Their pleas fell on deaf ears as the General Assembly passed the bill in a matter of hours.”
Several states have enacted legislation over the past two years to block sex changes on children and to change education guidelines or grant parents more control. In some cases, the laws are being fought through the court system.