Director, Commonwealth Policy Center

On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed SB 150, which protects Kentucky school kids from controversial LGBT indoctrination in K-5 public school classrooms, makes clear that bathroom and locker room policy corresponds to biological sex, and prohibits gender transitions of minors. Beshear claimed the bill interfered with parental rights and imposes “big government.” There’s more to the wide-ranging legislation, but some are already threatening lawsuits.

Sparking the legislative fix to controversial education policy was the launch of the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) LGBT Toolkit back in July. It recommended teachers use the gender preferred pronouns of students and suggested they should keep it secret from parents if the student wished them to do so. It also originally provided links to controversial curriculum like the Genderbread Person as a resource for young children. (KDE revised its guidance after several legislators pushed back in late July). Adding to the controversy are confused bathroom and locker-room policies across the Commonwealth that permit trans-identified youth to use public school facilities inconsistent with their biological sex.

SB 150 restricts restroom and locker facilities to biological sex and accommodates trans identified children in the least restrictive way. It requires school districts to “notify parents of any health or mental health services that relate to human sexuality and get parental consent to any services before they are administered,” and restricts any sex education to children in grades 5 and below. It requires parental consent for sex-ed in grades 6-12, and prohibits schools from forcing employees to use gender preferred pronouns, essentially respecting the First Amendment rights of teachers.

Sen. Karen Berg (D-Louisville) called it “willful, intentional hate.” Education Commissioner Jason Glass said the bill contains “provisions that will put our young people at risk, have the government interfere with decisions between doctors, patients and families and puts Kentucky at the front of a series of similar hateful, ignorant and shameful efforts around the country.”

Trans activists testified against the provision that banned puberty blocking drugs and transition surgery of minors. Yet, two detransitioners testified to the great harm caused by puberty blocking drugs and high doses of hormones. Prisha Mosely said that at age 15 she suffered from mental illness. By 17 she was medicalized with high doses of testosterone, and by 18 she had a double mastectomy. Luka Hein suffered from similar mental distress when she was 14, and by 16 had a double mastectomy and hormone “therapy,” which led to severe joint pain, distressed vocal chords, and sentenced her to a lifetime of medical treatment. She’s only 21.

Dr. Andre Van Mol, board certified family physician, told the Senate Families and Children Committee on March 14 that “transition affirming medical intervention actually imperil rather than help already at-risk gender dysphoric youth. [Such interventions] are not proven effective, not proven safe, do not reduce suicide.” He pointed to a 2011 Swedish study that found that “all of their post sex reassignment adults showed a completed suicide rate that was 19 times higher than the general population…. and they had 3 times the rate of the general population of psychiatric care.

Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters last Monday that SB 150 “will lead to an increase in teen suicides in Kentucky… I will never be able to support a bill that’s going to lead to increased suicides.” Dr. Van Mol reminded legislators that the CDC has warned for 30 years “against presenting simplistic representations for suicide. Suicide is never the result of a single factor or event. But rather results from a complex many factors and usually involves a history of psycho social problems” He said “suicide reduction claims [for “gender affirming care”] are a myth, used as emotional blackmail.”

Opponents of SB 150 criticized supporters for not including any Kentuckians to testify in favor. But according to Jeanette Cooper of Partners for Ethical Care, she has members in Kentucky suffering from transgender ideology imposed on their kids who are very afraid to come out because of the bullying when they’re already dealing with much pain. Luka Hein testified to the Senate Families and Children Committee, “I wish I could be there today, and even if I could, I’m not sure that I feel completely safe coming back to your capitol due to what happened last time I was there.” Hein was intimidated by a legislator who put her hands on her and verbally accosted her. Hein had to ask her to take her hands off of her. No wonder Kentuckians are afraid to speak publicly.

According to a recent poll, two out of every three Kentuckians believe that minors should be protected from surgical interventions that could lead to sterility and “hormone therapy” that could harm them for life. This is why the state Senate passed SB 150 by a 30-7 margin and the state House by a vote of 75-22-1 on March 16.

Gov. Beshear said in his March 24th veto message that SB 150 “tears away the freedom of parents to do what those parents believe is best for their kids and instead has big government making those decisions for everyone, even if the parents disagree.” Yet, parents have never had the right to make life altering decisions for their child that could leave them scarred and infertile. It is not big government, but it is the role of government, to protect the vulnerable who cannot protect themselves.

Gov. Beshear and the Kentucky Department of Education unfortunately conflated affirming the humanity of kids with approval of “gender affirming care.” One can (and should) support the former and oppose the latter. State Sen. Mike Wilson (R-Bowling Green) pushed back and said in a press release that school is supposed to be a place kids should focus on academics, and not a place where children go to learn about sex or sexual practices. “These topics should be taught within the home where a family value system is the foundation of those conversations,” Wilson said. “But, as we have seen in recent years, many topics meant to be taught within the home have been pushed into the public sphere of the education system.”

Unfortunately, KDE is doubling down in their opposition to SB 150, and announced a fall “summit in support of LGBTQIA+ people and youth.” While parents and teachers should offer compassionate care to gender confused children, the adults in the room should also tell them that it’s harmful to try to transcend their biological sex. After all, kids need champions for their well being.