State Watch

Kentucky’s Democratic governor vetoes transgender restrictions

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, center, and his wife Britainy Beshear, right, are greeted by state Sen. Chris McDaniel as the governor arrives to deliver his State of the Commonwealth speech from the floor of the Kentucky House of Representatives, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear on Friday vetoed a sweeping GOP-backed bill that would have prevented transgender youths in the state from accessing gender-affirming health care or using school facilities like restrooms or locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

Senate Bill 150 also sought to prohibit classroom instruction through the fifth grade on “human sexuality,” in addition to instruction for students at all grade levels on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation.

The Kentucky Department of Education and state Board of Education under the proposed law would have been discouraged from implementing or recommending policies that require a transgender student to be correctly gendered at school. The law would have also prevented local school districts from requiring staff to use a transgender student’s correct pronouns.

The bill passed easily through both chambers of Kentucky’s Republican-led legislature with veto-proof margins, making it to Beshear’s desk just a month after it was first introduced in the Senate. The state legislature is set to reconvene next week for the final days of this year’s legislative session, where lawmakers may vote to override the governor’s veto.

Kentucky legislators last year similarly voted to override Beshear’s veto on a bill to bar transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams — a measure that Beshear at the time said likely violates the U.S. Constitution.

Beshear, who is facing reelection this year, in a veto message on Friday said the measure “allows too much government interference in personal healthcare issues and rips away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.”

The proposed legislation would have also stripped parents of the freedom to make decisions on their children’s names, Beshear wrote in the message, and would have turned “educators and administrators into investigators.”

Beshear added that he worried the proposed law if enacted would have had damaging effects on the state’s transgender youth, citing reports from The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization, and the American Medical Association that linked access to gender-affirming health care to lower rates of anxiety, depression and suicidality among transgender young people.

“Improving access to gender-affirming care is an important means of improving health outcomes for the transgender population,” Beshear wrote in Friday’s veto message. “Senate Bill 150 will cause an increase in suicide among Kentucky’s youth.”

Tags Andy Beshear Andy Beshear Kentucky transgender health coverage Transgender rights transgender youth

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