Kentucky Human Rights Campaign and Campaign for Equity Praise Kentucky Governor Beshear for Vetoing Anti-Trans Sports Legislation; Urge lawmakers not to ignore
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Kentucky’s Fairness Campaign have praised Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear for vetoing Senate Bill 83, a law that would deny transgender students in Kentucky the opportunity to play school sports. with their peers. Although Governor Beshear vetoed the bill, the House and Senate could override the veto by a simple majority vote in both houses. It is now up to Kentucky lawmakers to maintain the veto. Otherwise, transgender youth will be denied the social, physical, and emotional benefits of playing school sports. The Commonwealth would also likely join the ranks of Florida, Idaho, Tennessee and West Virginia, where similar legislation has been the subject of costly lawsuits that needlessly waste taxpayers’ money.
“Governor Beshear did the right thing today by vetoing this bill – a bill that would only cause problems, not solve them, by setting Kentucky’s transgender children apart from the exclusion and discrimination in their own schools”, said Cathryn Oakley, legislative director and senior counsel for Human Rights Campaign State. “With the welfare of transgender youth hanging in the balance, Governor Beshear has lived up to Kentucky’s values and his ‘Team Kentucky’ slogan. We urge lawmakers to uphold the veto because transgender children, like all children of Kentucky, deserve better than to be treated like political pawns – what they deserve is to be able to have fun with their friends, exercise and learn to be part of a team. veto is a strong statement of Kentucky values and the legislature must allow it to stand.
“I commend Governor Beshear for doing the right thing today and vetoing harmful legislation that would deny transgender girls and young women the opportunity to grow and learn as part of of a team, simply because of who they are”, said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Equity Campaign. “From the beginning, this bill has been more about fear than fairness. In the entire Kentucky school system, there is only one openly transgender girl that we know of who plays on a school sports team. This student started her school’s field hockey team, recruited everyone else on the team, and just wants the opportunity to play with her friends in her eighth grade. But rather than tackle the real problems of the state, lawmakers decided to use their time and power to bully this student and others like her. While we are pleased with the Governor’s actions today, the rights of transgender people in Kentucky are still in jeopardy. We urge state lawmakers to follow Governor Beshear’s example and show compassion for transgender people in our Commonwealth by not overriding this veto.
Governor Beshear’s veto of SB 83 comes after a historically poor 2021 session that saw a record number of anti-transgender bills introduced and passed across the country. Caught in the crosshairs of the divisive political strategy of anti-LGBTQ+ elected officials are children who are simply trying to navigate their teenage years – children who face relentless targeting and increasing levels of discrimination in their community, such as in witness record incidents of deadly violence against transgender and gender non-binary people in 2021.
By including collegiate athletics, SB 83 violates NCAA rules, threatening Kentucky’s participation in NCAA athletic and championship tournaments.
Recent NCAA guidelines direct each sport’s national governing body to determine rules that balance fairness and inclusion. These decisions are best left to the experts in each sport alongside medical professionals.
The bill could trigger legal action, and federal courts have ruled overwhelmingly in favor of transgender rights in recent years.
Numerous federal courts have upheld LGBTQ+ rights, including many rulings on Title IX protections for transgender students. Idaho recently passed a law restricting transgender student-athletes, and Chief Justice David Nye of the U.S. District Court in Idaho, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed 100-0 by the U.S. Senate , spoke against. There is also an injunction against the West Virginia law and ongoing lawsuits against similar bans in Tennessee, Florida, etc.
SB 83 targets some of Kentucky’s most vulnerable children, again.
Beginning with the “Bathroom Bills” several years ago, national organizations have prioritized different iterations of legislation targeting transgender youth in dozens of states. Due to the hardships and discrimination they face, more than half of transgender youth have seriously considered suicide, according to the Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey of LGBTQ+ Mental Health. More than two-thirds of LGBTQ+ youth said recent debates over state laws that target transgender people had a negative impact on their mental health, according to a 2022 Trevor Project poll. Legislation like SB 83 contributes to the climate negative and exclusionary messages that young transgender people face.
Anti-transgender attacks as a topic of political discussion
Lawmakers in a record 34 states introduced 147 anti-transgender bills in 2021, focusing on discriminatory anti-equality measures to drive a wedge between their constituents and score short-term political points. In 2021, lawmakers in twelve states passed anti-LGBTQ+ bills although they did not provide examples of what exactly they legislate against.
The mere act of introducing anti-transgender bills and peddling anti-transgender rhetoric has already had a detrimental effect, leading to Resources for LGBTQ+ youth are surreptitiously removed from a government website, 11-year-olds literally have trouble sleeping, and a school district banning graphic novels with a transgender character after a parent’s complaint. 2021 and 2020 have been the deadliest and second deadliest years on record for trans and gender nonconforming people, respectively, with the human rights campaign recording at least 50 violent deaths in 2021 alone. A new Trevor Project investigation
shows that a startling 85% of transgender or gender non-binary youth say their mental health has been negatively affected by these legislative attacks.
Anti-transgender content on social media is also a radical question on its own— in large part because transgender youth are among the most marginalized, voiceless, and helpless communities in America and because right-wing arguments play on long-standing misogynistic, racist, and sexist tropes about gender roles.
Businesses, advocacy groups and athletes oppose anti-trans legislation
More than 220 major American companies have stood up and spoken out in opposition to proposed anti-transgender legislation in states across the country. Companies like Amazon, American Airlines, Apple, Airbnb, Dell, Dow, Google, IBM, Lyft, Marriott, Microsoft, Nike, and Paypal have opposed state anti-LGBTQ legislation. Four of America’s largest food companies also condemned “dangerous and discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ people, especially transgender and non-binary people,” and the The Walton Family Foundation released a statement expressing “alarm” at the trend of anti-transgender legislation that recently became law in Arkansas.
Many are rightly protecting the legacy of women’s sport in this country, and a strong Title IX is at the heart of that legacy. It is important to note that advocates for women and girls in sport – such as the National Women’s Law Center, Women’s Sports Foundation, Women Leaders in College Sports and others – support inclusive policies and oppose efforts aimed at excluding transgender students from sports participation. The same goes for top female athletes including Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe and Cheryl Reeve. Indeed, while women’s sports face real challenges, including a lack of resources dedicated to supporting them, transgender participation in athletics is not one of them.
The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups, representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations, have released an open letter calling on state lawmakers countries to oppose dozens of bills targeting LGBTQ+ people and transgender children in particular.
Nearly 550 college athletes have resisted anti-transgender legislation demanding that NCAA championships be removed from states that have enacted anti-trans sports laws.
Trans equality is popular across all demographics
The reality is that, as sensational and polarizing as this issue may seem, public opinion polls across the country show strong support for inclusive and pro-equality policies:
Recent PRRI data shows that a large majority of Americans (82%) support laws that protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing, and majorities of Republicans (67%), independents (85%) and Democrats (92%) support non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ Americans.
A PBS/NPR/Marist Poll says 67% of Americans, including 66% of Republicans, oppose anti-transgender legislation banning sports that is proliferating in 30 states.
In a poll of 10 swing states conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group in 2020 showed:
- At least 60% of Trump voters in each of the ten swing states say transgender people should be able to live freely and openly.
- At least 87% of respondents in each of the ten swing states say transgender people should have equal access to medical care, with many states exceeding 90% support.
- When respondents were asked how they prioritized the importance of banning transgender people from participating in sports over other political issues, the question came last, with between 1% and 3% prioritizing at the question.
Another survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign & Hart Research Group found that when it comes to transgender youth participation in sports, the strong public tilt is on the side of fairness and equality for transgender student-athletes. 73% of voters agree that “sport is important in the lives of young people. Young transgender people should have the opportunity to participate in a way that is safe and comfortable for them.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are considered full members of society at home, at work and in every community.