Adam Dupuis's picture

Kentucky Gov. Says It's Okay To Keep LGBT Students From School Groups?

The religious steamroller is running through the congressional offices across the states and into the governor's offices. Anti-LGBT laws are popping up left and right. Here is the most recent case in Kentucky with SB 17.

The bill, designed to protect religious expression in public schools, is known as the “Charlie Brown law,” after a Kentucky school cut a bible verse from their production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

The bill prevents school officials from regulating student organizations, including the selection of members and “doctrines and principles.” - wtvq.com

In the first read through the bill, I did not read between the lines.  It was all about religion being mentioned in the classroom (didn't say what religion) and allowed teachers to use the Bible and other scripture to mention religion, not teach, and not just Christianity.  It also states that schools cannot limit student speech unless it is agreed upon by the student.  If we allow religious consideration, do we automatically shun the LGBTers?

Here is HRC's opinion of the bill.

The Human Rights Campaign called out Governor Matt Bevin for signing SB 17 into law, a measure that allows student groups at colleges, universities, and high schools to discriminate against LGBTQ students.

“Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ. While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.”

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 religion. Many public colleges and universities have long had “all-comers” policies that require student organizations receiving financial and other support from the institution not to 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. - HRC.org

Have a read through the bill.  As an educator, it's a hard bill to read. As someone who facilitated learning about the major religions when I taught in the late '90s and early '00s, I can see there will be an ability to use more scripture than the Bible an more religions than Christianity.  But then again, that inclusion may be left up to the school board? As someone who ran clubs and organizations in schools and colleges I can see both sides of the equation where this law can be pro-religious to the extreme and easily anti-LGBT.

Read the bill in its entirety and let us know your thoughts.

SB 17 (BR 910) - A. Robinson, D. Carroll, C. Embry Jr., R. Girdler, D. Seum, D. Thayer, M. Wilson, M. Wise

     AN ACT relating to the expression of religious or political viewpoints in public schools and public postsecondary institutions.
     Amend KRS 158.183 to permit students to voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints in school assignments free from discrimination; require local boards of education to ensure that the selection of student speakers is made in a viewpoint-neutral manner, the student's prepared remarks are not altered before delivery without student's consent, religious and political organizations are allowed equal access to public forums on the same basis as nonreligious and nonpolitical organizations, and no recognized religious or political student organization is discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs; allow students to display religious messages on items of clothing, access public school facilities during noninstructional time as a religious student organization, use school media to announce student religious meetings, and meet as a religious student group during noninstructional time and before and after school to the same extent as students undertaking such actions in a nonreligious manner; permit public schools to sponsor artistic or theatrical programs that advance students' knowledge of society's cultural and religious heritage; create a new section of KRS Chapter 158 to allow a teacher to teach about religion with the use of the Bible or other scripture without providing religious instruction, and to teach about religious holidays in a secular manner; amend KRS 158.186 to require annual notification to local school boards, school-based decision making councils, and certified employees of statutes pertaining to religious freedom and expression in schools; create a new section of KRS Chapter 164 to require public postsecondary education institution governing boards to ensure that students are permitted to voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints in assignments free from discrimination, the selection of student speakers is made in a viewpoint-neutral manner, the student's prepared remarks are not altered before delivery without the student's consent, religious and political organizations are allowed equal access to public forums on the same basis as nonreligious and nonpolitical organizations, no recognized religious or political student organization is discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, and there are no restrictions on speech that occurs outdoors on campus and is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, except for restrictions that are reasonable, justified without reference to speech content, narrowly tailored to serve governmental interest, and limited to provide alternative options for the communication of the information. - lrc.ky.gov

 

 

h/t: wtvq.com, lrc.ky.gov, HRC.org

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It's easy to see where this can lead: even more bullying of LGBT students in educational institutions...and not only from other students, but from teachers and staff, as well.  

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