The Republican-led Kentucky Legislature on Wednesday voted to override the governor’s veto on a bill that would restrict the lives of transgender youth, including barring access to health care and school bathrooms they feel safe using.
The bill SB150, deemed by many as one of the nation’s most extreme anti-transgender legislation, will ban gender-affirming health care for transgender minors under the age of 18, prohibit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in K-12 schools and bar transgender students from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Teachers would also be allowed to refuse to use a student’s preferred pronouns.
The move by Republicans effectively allowed the bill to become state law on Wednesday.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) vetoed the bill on Friday, stating that it permits too much government interference in personal health care issues while ripping away the freedom of parents to make medical decisions for their children.
“SB 150 also turns educators and administrators into investigators that must listen in on student conversations and then knock on doors to confront and question parents and families about how students behave and/or refer to themselves or others,” Beshear said in his official veto statement on Friday.
But his veto was met with pushback from Kentucky’s Republican lawmakers, who occupy a majority in both legislative chambers. Sen. Max Wise (R), the bill’s sponsor, said parents should see this veto as “a slap in the face.”
“It should come as no surprise that Governor Beshear put his party’s politics over the people of Kentucky, as he has done his whole political career,” Wise said, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.
With a Republican majority in both of Kentucky’s legislative chambers, many feared the possibility of lawmakers overriding the governor’s veto, prompting hundreds of LGBTQIA+ youth and allies to protest at the state’s Capitol on Wednesday.
But Kentucky’s Senate and House voted to override the governor’s veto of the bill, solidifying it as state law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kentucky pointed out in a statement that the bill’s health care ban provisions won’t go into effect until late June — 90 days after the legislature adjourns, during which the organization and others will likely take legal action against the bill.
“Trans youth can still receive care until that portion of the bill takes effect. And we intend to take this fight to the courts to make sure Kentuckians’ right to that care will continue,” Amber Duke, the ACLU of Kentucky’s executive director, said in a statement on Wednesday in response to the override of the bill’s veto.
The state’s legislation joins the 435 anti-transgender bills and ongoing efforts from lawmakers nationwide to restrict the rights of transgender and LGBTQ+ people through bans on gender-affirming care, drag shows and more. Beshear emphasized in his veto on Friday that the bill would “endanger the children of Kentucky” and result in an increase in suicide among the state’s transgender youth.
According to the Trevor Project’s national survey, 45% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide, and 14% attempted suicide in 2022. Recent data also shows that anti-trans bills have negatively impacted the mental health of transgender and nonbinary youth in the U.S. Experts predict that as more anti-transgender policies are passed in states, transgender and LGBTQ youth will have limited resources to address their worsening mental health.