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Kentucky Governor Vetoes Sweeping Anti-Trans Bill Banning Care for Trans Youth

Republicans, however, hold a supermajority in the Kentucky legislature and are likely to override the veto.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during the statewide Fairness Rally at the Kentucky state Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, on February 19, 2020.

Kentucky Democrat Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed a sweeping anti-LGBTQ bill on Friday that would have banned gender-affirming care for trans children and put LGBTQ children in danger at school and at home.

The bill, Senate Bill 150, would have banned medically necessary, life-saving care for trans children, forcing transitioning children to detransition and requiring them to use locker rooms and bathrooms that don’t match their gender identity.

Kentucky Republicans also sought to ban teachers in any grade from discussing sexual orientation or gender, going even further than Florida’s fascist “Don’t Say Gay” law, while forcing teachers to out LGBTQ children to their parents, even if doing so would put the child in danger. Schools would be banned from implementing policies on respecting a child’s pronouns under the bill.

Republicans passed the bill on the last regular day of the legislative session last week in such a rush that they potentially broke public input laws while advancing the legislation.

In his veto message, Beshear wrote that the bill “allows too much government interference in personal health care issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.” He said that it would turn educators into “investigators” charged with eavesdropping to determine children’s sexuality and gender identity so they could be reported to their parents.

The bill may become law despite the veto. Republicans are likely to use their supermajority in the legislature to override the veto, as they have done with dozens of Beshear’s vetoes in the past, including his nixing of Republicans’ 15-week abortion ban last year. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky has vowed to file a lawsuit against the bill if the veto is overridden.

Beshear warned of dire consequences if the bill were implemented. “Senate Bill 150 will endanger the children of Kentucky,” he wrote. “Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population. Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth.”

The governor cited data from a 2022 survey of LGBTQ youth which found that nearly half of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in the past year as anti-trans bills swept the nation as the far right ramped up their attacks on the LGBTQ community. Receiving gender-affirming care, meanwhile, reduces negative mental health outcomes among youth — effects that carry on into adulthood.

LGBTQ advocates praised the veto and asked Republicans to uphold it.

“This bill is nothing but a desperate and cruel effort by extremist politicians in Kentucky to stigmatize, marginalize and erase the LGBTQ+ community, particularly transgender youth,” said Human Rights Campaign senior counsel and state legislative director Cathryn Oakley in a statement. “These politicians have no place inserting themselves in conversations between doctors, parents, and transgender youth about gender affirming care; they have no place inside a middle school bathroom stall either.”

“This bill would terrorize transgender youth in schools, in doctor’s offices, and even could put them in danger at home,” Oakley said.

The Kentucky Fairness Campaign dubbed Senate Bill 150 the “worst anti-trans bill in the nation,” saying that it would be extremely dangerous for children, parents and educators.

“SB150 allows the government to overrule parental rights at every turn. It denies parents the right to provide medically-supported healthcare for their kids. It allows teachers and school administrators to disrespect students by ignoring their names and pronouns, despite a parent’s wishes,” said Fairness Campaign Executive Director Chris Hartman. “SB150 will only lead to disaster and despair for transgender Kentucky kids and their families.”

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