Media Contact

Samuel Crankshaw, Communications Manager, ACLU of Kentucky  |  (646) 820-4548 (call/text)

April 6, 2022

Credit: American Civil Liberties Union Foundation

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-KY spokesperson Samuel Crankshaw regarding Governor Beshear's veto of Senate Bill 83, bill to ban girls from girls' sports:

The ACLU of Kentucky applauds Governor Andy Beshear's veto of Senate Bill 83. By vetoing this hateful legislation, Governor Beshear has demonstrated his commitments to protect Kentucky children's Constitutional rights and uphold Title IX of the Civil Rights Act. This bill is a solution in search of a non-existent problem. Enacting Senate Bill 83 into law would jeopardize our children’s mental health, physical well-being, and ability to access educational opportunities comparable to their peers. 
Senate Bill 83 would violate students' Constitutional rights to equal protection and privacy. It would also violate Title IX of the Civil Rights Act by imposing a wholesale ban on transgender girls from participating in athletics consistent with their gender identity. Similar bans have been blocked in federal courts in Idaho and West Virginia. A challenge to including trans girls was dismissed in Connecticut
Senate Bill 83 was amended to ban girls and women from sixth grade through college. This could jeopardize colleges' and universities' participation in organizations like the National Collegiate Athletic Association because Senate Bill 83 could force Kentucky teams to violate NCAA policies. 
Trans kids, just like all kids, simply want to participate in the activities they love, including athletics. Trans students participate in sports for the same reasons other young people do: to challenge themselves, improve fitness, and be part of a team. Excluding trans students deprives them of opportunities available to their peers and sends the message they are not worthy of a full life. 
Proponents of SB83 provided no examples of any Kentucky students being harmed by including trans girls in girls’ sports, even when directly asked in a Senate committee hearing. Lawmakers have also ignored the positions of leading women’s athletics organizations that support inclusion, including the Women’s Sports Foundation and the National Women’s Law Center
While there are no instances of inclusion causing harm, we know for a fact that many children would be harmed by SB83. Senators heard from multiple trans athletes, including Fischer Wells, a 12-year-old girl who recruited friends to start her school’s field hockey team. The House Education Committee did not even allow opponents of SB83 to testify and turned Fischer away after she traveled to the Capitol to share how SB83 would affect her. Committee Chair Huff did allow The Family Foundation to testify.

Lawmakers in both chambers ignored Fischer's pleas to let her play with her friends and voted to kick her off her team. 
Transgender students already live and go to school in Kentucky, play sports, and enjoy time with their friends. They deserve the chance to succeed and thrive like any other student. The adults in the General Assembly should focus on what students, teachers, and schools really need, rather than single out vulnerable children to score cheap political points. 
We strongly urge all concerned Kentuckians to contact lawmakers and ask them to uphold Governor Beshear's veto. The General Assembly will have the chance to override vetoes on April 13 and 14. Lawmakers can override a veto with only a constitutional majority.

We wrote to Governor Beshear urging him to veto Senate Bill 83 and outlining the Constitutional and personal harms this legislation could cause. His explanation for the veto can be found here.

To all the students who may be affected by this legislation, we stand by you and we will not stop fighting. You are cherished. You are loved. You belong.