Kentucky lawmaker files bill to regulate transgender use of scho - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky lawmaker files bill to regulate transgender use of school restrooms

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Kentucky lawmaker filled a bill this week that would regulate transgender use of public school restrooms, locker rooms and showers, thus weakening local government and school board policies that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rep. Rick Nelson, a Democrat from Middlesboro, filed House Bill 141 to "ensure that student privacy exists in school restrooms, locker rooms, and showers; require students born male to use only those facilities designated to be used by males and students born female to use only those facilities designated to be used by females."

It would also require schools to provide the "best available accommodation" to students who assert that their gender is different from their biological sex and establish a cause of action for damages if facilities designated for the opposite biological sex are used.

Nelson told the Lexington Herald-Leader this week he wasn’t aware of the two issues being problems in Kentucky, “but we want to be vigilant about what could happen.”

In the proposed legislation, Nelson states that school personnel "have a duty to protect the dignity, health, welfare, and privacy rights of students in their care."

"Children and young adults have natural and normal concerns about privacy while in various states of undress, and most wish for members of the opposite biological sex not to be present in those circumstances," the bill reads. "Allowing students to use restrooms, locker rooms, or showers that are reserved for students of a different biological sex will create a significant potential for disruption of school activities and unsafe conditions and potential embarrassment, shame, and psychological injury to students."

Nelson filed with bill even though Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican, said in December that the state has no need to pass a law restricting transgender bathroom use because it is not an issue in Kentucky.

“Why would we? Why would anybody need it? Is it an issue?" Bevin said in a December press conference in Louisville. "Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom? Seriously. Have you heard of one person in Kentucky having trouble taking care of business in Kentucky?”

In 2015, the Republican-led state Senate favored a bill limiting transgender students to school bathrooms that match their biological sex, but GOP leaders of both the House and Senate have said this year they want to focus on economic issues rather than social issues.

Last May, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice issued joint guidance about schools' obligations to transgender students when it comes to not discriminating against them on the basis of sex.

It notes that schools may not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces when there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities. However, schools can offer individual restrooms for all students.

Louisville's Atherton High School made national news when it approved a nondiscrimination policy that included barring discrimination based on gender identity and allowed its transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room facilities of their gender identity.

According to Atherton's policy, the school maintains separate facilities for male and female students, but states that students shall have access to restrooms and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school.

Last fall, the J. Graham Brown School in downtown Louisville also made a gender-neutral bathroom available to students

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