Kentucky Governor Signs Bill Legalizing Discrimination Against LGBT Students

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin declares open season on gay kids, signs bill legalizing discrimination against LGBT students.

In Kentucky, it’s open season on gay kids after Gov. Bevin signed Senate Bill 17 into law. The new law allows student organizations at high schools and colleges to discriminate against LGBT students under the guise of expressing religious freedom.

In essence, the new religious freedom law gives students the green light to discriminate against their LGBT peers.

The Hill reports:

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has signed legislation that would allow student organizations at the commonwealth’s public schools and colleges to bar gays, lesbians and transgender people from joining, opening a new front in a national battle over so-called religious freedom laws.

The law, Senate Bill 17, will allow students to engage in religious activities and to express religious views in public schools and in their assignments. It would also allow teachers to include lessons about the Bible in discussions of religion and history.

In a statement commenting on the new law, Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, said:

Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities.

No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ.

Warbelow added:

While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.

The Human Rights Campaign reports the new law in Kentucky is part of an alarming trend sweeping the country:

The attack on fairness and equality in Kentucky is part of an onslaught of bills being pushed in 2017 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking more than 100 anti-LGBTQ legislative proposals in 30 states.

In a statement The Kentucky Equality Federation says it will fight the new law in court, noting:

Discrimination under the guise of religion is also nothing new. Senate Bill 17 jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at high schools, colleges, and universities.  Though the struggle for LGBTI equality continues to this day, the right wing has been pushing religious freedom to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people in addition to pregnant and unmarried women under the inhumane calling of religious freedom.

Bottom line: The legislation claims to protect students’ religious freedom, but like most legislation dealing with religious freedom, the real purpose is to promote and privilege Christianity over all other viewpoints.

In fact, the legislation is expressly designed to make it possible for Christian extremists to demean and discriminate against members of the LGBT population under the guise of religious freedom.

In short, the law endorses bigotry and hatred in the name of Christianity, and gives conservative Christian students permission to harass and discriminate against those they hate.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (Image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr)
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