KY Senate Committee Re-Votes on Anti-Transgender "Bathroom Bounty Bill" SB76, Bill Passes 8-1 with No Debate or Notice

The Kentucky Senate Education Committee re-voted late Monday night, February 23, on anti-transgender Senate Bill 76 (SB76), which passed 8-1 after it had failed last Thursday in the same committee with bi-partisan opposition. Two members were absent from last Thursday's committee meeting; three members were absent today, including two previous "No" votes.

Senate Education Committee Chairman Mike Wilson called the special committee meeting last Friday with no announced agenda. Senators gave no prior notice the bill would be voted on a second time until the committee convened upon Senate adjournment this evening. Chairman Wilson allowed testimony from supporters of the measure, but not any further testimony from opponents, despite the presence of those who spoke at last Thursday's hearing, transgender high school student Henry Brousseau, Henry's mother, Dr. Karen Berg, and Atherton High School Principal Dr. Tom Aberli.

SB76 formerly imposed a $2,500 bounty on transgender students in Kentucky, though the bill's sponsor, Senator C.B. Embry, offered a committee substitute that eliminated the financial penalty and removed the "Emergency" status of the measure. Even with the changes, SB76 is a violation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sex in schools, according to guidance issued by the U.S. Department of Education last year. The legislation was originally drafted by lobbyists at the Family Foundation in response to Louisville's Atherton High School, where a Site Based Council of students, teachers, and parents voted twice to uphold their principal's decision allowing a transgender student to use restrooms that matched their gender identity.

“Unfortunately, tonight, the Kentucky Senate chose to prioritize an issue of discrimination after it was defeated just days ago with bi-partisan opposition,” shared Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman. “Given the number and scale of important issues before the Senate this session, it is shocking the committee felt the need to re-vote on this. It is willful, mean-spirited, and does nothing to move our commonwealth forward.”

Since its introduction last month, the bill has garnered only one additional Senate co-sponsor, has come under fire from Joe Tinius, Superintendent of the Bowling Green Independent School District, which neighbors Senator Embry's legislative district, and received only 22% support in a recent Bowling Green Daily News poll.

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