Bill requiring transgender students to use restrooms of their birth sex fails in committee

02/19/2015 05:08 PM

FRANKFORT – A bill which would have banned transgender students from using school restrooms that don’t correspond to their anatomical sex failed to receive enough votes to get out of the Senate Committee on Education Thursday.

Senate Bill 76, known as the “Kentucky Student Privacy Act”, sponsored by Sen. C. B. Embry Jr., R-Morgantown, would have required students to use restrooms, locker rooms and showers of the sex that they were born.

The bill would allow transgender students to ask for special accommodations, such as a unisex or faculty bathroom.

Henry Brousseau, a Collegiate Academy junior transgender student who was born female, spoke in opposition of the bill and told the committee that the bill will make life more difficult for transgender students throughout the commonwealth.

“Nearly 9 in 10 trans kids are bullied at school and more than half of us have been physically assaulted,” Brousseau said. “Too often this happens in bathrooms when we are forced to use a bathroom that doesn’t match our gender identity.”

Thomas Aberli, principal at Atherton High School told the committee that he would like to see decisions made at the local school level.

Aberli began allowing a transgender student to use the girls’ bathroom during the 2013/14 school year because that’s how they identified themselves.

The decision angered some parents who appealed, but a 5 to 1 decision by the Jefferson County Public School appeals board upheld the decision which allows transgender students at Atherton to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their gender identities.

“You know, I had to educate myself on this, it wasn’t a decision I made quickly,” Aberli said. “This bill would do the exactly opposite with regards to deterring bullying transgender individuals.”

Advocates for the bill, like Martin Cothran of the Family Foundation of Kentucky, says it’s about protecting the rights of both the majority and the minority.

“Our schools have recently become somewhat of a battleground of gender politics in a way that threatens both privacy rights of the majority of students and the safety of the minority of the students,” Cothron said.

Don Weber

Don Weber is a Video Journalist for Spectrum News and covers politics and education on Pure Politics, Kentucky’s only nightly program dedicated to state politics. Don is a lifelong Kentuckian and a graduate of Northern Kentucky University. He spent many years covering sports in the Northern Kentucky area before shifting primarily to politics. You can watch Don’s work weeknights at 7:00 and 11:30 on Pure Politics, available exclusively on Spectrum News, HD Channels 403 and 715. If you have a story idea you can reach Don at donald.weber@charter.com.

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