Kentucky Legislature Sends Anti-LGBTQ SB 17 to Governor’s Desk

An anti-LGBT bill has passed the Kentucky House in an 81 to 8 vote after passing through the Senate last month. SB 17, is a bill that would, among other things, allow student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has called on Gov. Matt Bevin to veto the bill.

“This discriminatory legislation goes beyond protecting students’ already secured First Amendment rights and would allow, in part, student groups, at colleges, universities and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students and still receive public funding,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “We call on Governor Bevin to veto this legislation. All students should have the opportunity to fully participate in school programs, and no public school should have a license to discriminate against LGBTQ students.”

SB 17 undermines inclusive “all comers” policies at public colleges, universities, and now high schools, by allowing student organizations to discriminate against students under the guise of religious freedom. Many public colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies that require that student organizations that receive financial and other support from the institute of higher education do not discriminate against students based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. These policies are important because they allow all members of the student body to participate in students groups and prevent such groups from discriminating against students with state funding. The Supreme Court upheld these all-comers policies as constitutional in the Christian Legal Society v. Martinez decision in 2010.