Today, HRC called on Governor Matt Bevin to veto SB 17, a bill that would, among other things, allow student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students. The bill passed the Kentucky House in an 81 to 8 vote after passing through the Senate last month.
“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.
The attack on fairness and equality in Kentucky is part of an onslaught of bills being pushed in 2017 by anti-equality activists around the country. HRC is currently tracking more than 100 anti-LGBTQ legislative proposals in 29 states. For more information, visit http://hrc.im/2017legislature.