Ky. Senate OKs bill requiring separate restrooms for transgender students


FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky‘s state Senate voted Friday to force transgender students to use separate bathrooms in public schools, a move that recalled the dark days of segregation for some but for others represented a stand for privacy rights.

KentuckyThe Senate voted 27-9 in favor of a bill that reversed a decision by Louisville’s Atherton High School to allow a student who was born male but identifies as a female to use the girls’ restroom. That school’s decision was vetted and approved twice by the school’s council of parents and administrators, a process the legislature set up in 1990 for schools to make their own policy decisions.

But some parents and students objected because they were uncomfortable with their children sharing a bathroom with someone who was born of the opposite sex, prompting Republican Sen. C.B. Embry of Morgantown to introduce the legislation, which has the support of the Family Foundation of Kentucky.

The bill now goes to the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, where it has tepid support from leadership as the clock winds down on the 2015 legislative session.

California was the first state to pass a law guaranteeing that transgender students can use the bathroom of their gender identities rather than their biological gender. Several states, including Arizona and Utah, have tried to do the opposite but with no success. This year, similar bills to Kentucky’s ban are pending in the legislatures of Texas and Florida.

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“We live in a day of political correctness I believe that is pressuring us to change the way that we do things,” said Republican Sen. Mike Wilson of Bowling Green. “I don’t want that situation for my daughter to be in a place and a state of undress in front of the opposite sex, whether they identify with her sex or not.”

Three Republicans and six Democrats voted against the bill for a variety of reasons. Republican Sen. John Schickel of Union and Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey of Louisville said schools should decide issues like this for themselves. And Democratic senators Reginald Thomas and Gerald Neal said the bill was a dangerous step toward discrimination.

“This is not about modesty. This is about fear,” Neal said.

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