Many Kentucky LGBT students woke up Monday morning facing more threats of discrimination. Governor Matt Bevin wasted no time during the late night hours signing a bill which would allow religious people to discriminate against LGBT students. This was also signed on the eve of President Donald Trump’s visit to Louisville, Kentucky.
Coincidence? Maybe… Maybe not.
What is infuriating about SB 17 is that it potentially creates an unsafe and unwelcoming environment at high schools, colleges, and universities.
HRC Director Sarah Warbelow said:
“Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities.”
Under this bill, students can be excluded from clubs, activities, or events under the guise of religious freedom. Many colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies which state that LGBTQ students cannot be discriminated against using taxpayer dollars. Students should be able to participate in school sponsored groups and activities without fear of discrimination.
SB 17 is also known as the “Charlie Brown Bill,“ after a Kentucky school cut a bible verse from their production of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Under this bill, students can:
“Voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints in ‘classroom, homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments.’ Students also have the right to distribute ‘religious or political literature in a public school.'”
Earlier this month, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed a similar bill that allows taxpayer-funded adoption agencies to refuse to place children with LGBT families on the basis of religious or moral convictions.
The Human Rights Campaign says they are tracking about 100 other anti-LGBT bills in 30 states.
The First Amendment already safeguards students’ rights to express their religious and political views. Bills such as SB 17 take it a step further and are chipping away at the separation of church and state. They also perpetuate an environment of fear, hate, and divisiveness, but seem to be gaining an enormous amount of momentum in such a dangerous political climate.
Check out this video to see the Human Rights Campaign Ambassadors in action, delivering a message of equality to the world on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia:
Featured Image By Kentucky Forward.