COVINGTON, Ky. — In late June, the part of a bill that bans gender-affirming care for children will go into effect in Kentucky.
On Wednesday, the NKY Pride Center held a town hall in Covington in opposition of the recently passed Senate Bill 150.
Bonnie Meyer co-chairs and helped open NKY Pride on Pike Street in 2021 after serving as the founding director of the Northern Kentucky University’s Office of LGBTQ Programs and Services.
She said it’s important for the community in NKY to have the conversation about the bill because Northern Kentucky supports those in the LGBTQ+ community, and the bill doesn’t represent those in the region.
“The thing about Northern Kentucky is that we really are a place where we want LGBTQ+ people,” Meyer said. “We want people to feel like they belong here in Northern Kentucky.”
Further, she said it’s important to step away from the policy and think about what it actually does to the communities in NKY.
“We want people to stay here in Kentucky,” Meyer said. “We don’t want them to cross the river to Ohio.”
ACLU Kentucky filed an injunction this week that seeks to block the portion of the bill that bans children under the age of 18 from receiving gender-affirming care, such as the ban on puberty blockers, gender-affirming surgery, or hormones.
Injunctive relief would block the part of the bill while the case is litigated.
“The families we represent from across the commonwealth should be able to begin or continue essential medical care for their children while our case plays out in the courts,” said Corey Shapiro, legal director for the ACLU of Kentucky. “Banning medically necessary care for trans youth is not supported by science or reputable major medical organizations.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky filed suit in early May and said at the time they would seek injunctive relief. The lawsuit specifically addresses part four of the law.
“Our complaint challenges section four of Senate Bill 150, which is a section of the law that applies to essential medical care for transgender children,” Shapiro said at the time.
The other portions of the law that prohibits schools from teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms and forcing transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their biological sex, and allowing teachers to deadname transgender children are not included in the lawsuit — these parts of the law went into effect immediately.
“These are merely political attacks from groups with a fundamental opposition to transgender people being able to live openly, freely, and affirmed as who they really are,” Shapiro said.
The rhetoric around the anti-LGBTQ+ community heated up this week on social media when Rep. Josh Calloway (R-Irvington) posted a Youtube video with a description where he said that the “LGBTQI+ community is a disease.” Calloway further reiterated his statements by saying that the “LGBTQIA+ and gender ideology” is spreading on social media, though he changed the caption on the video.
A Kentucky state representative writes in a caption to his video that “The LGBTQI+ community is a disease” #kyga23 pic.twitter.com/a6fxtnIXxh— Joe Sonka 😐 (@joesonka) May 23, 2023
“The fact is that LGBTQIA+ and gender ideology is spreading on social media as a social contagion and targeting confused children,” Calloway said on Twitter. “I am amazed at the hypocrisy of people who promote genital mutilation, chemical castration, and the murder of unborn babies, yet “clutch their pearls” when they read a description posted on YouTube by my video producer.”
The conversation played out in the Republican primary for governor when candidate Kelly Craft and her running mate, Sen. Max Wise (R-Campbellsville) — SB 150’s primary sponsor — campaigned on anti-trans rhetoric.
“What I’m really concerned about as a mother and grandmother, I can’t imagine one of my granddaughters being in the girls’ bathroom in school and having a junior high or high school male coming into their bathroom or into their locker room,” Craft said at a campaign stop in April.
Craft’s campaign strategist, Axiom Strategies, ran campaigns with similar rhetoric that they then brought to Kentucky.
The campaign visited Newport in early April with former University of Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines — an outspoken, conservative voice in favor of banning transgender women from women’s sports and often appears on conservative news networks and supporting legislation to ban transgender women from women’s sports.
“I can wholeheartedly attest to the extreme discomfort in the locker room when you turn around, and there’s a six-foot-four male dropping his pants, fully equipped with and exposing male genitalia and watching other girls undress,” Gaines said in her stump speech on the campaign trail.
Chris Hartman, the executive director of the Fairness Campaign, said Wednesday that
Craft made it a key campaign issue, and voters responded by not voting for the former United Nations Ambassador.
Craft came in third behind Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and GOP gubernatorial nominee Daniel Cameron despite loaning her campaign nearly $11 million — most of which was spent on ads criticizing the “woke” school system.
“I would argue Kelly Craft is the chief reason that we have Senate Bill 150,” Hartman said.
Hartman said that in his 15 years lobbying the Kentucky legislature, this year had more anti-trans legislation. It started when legislation in the 2022 session banned trans women from competing in women’s sports — he gave similar examples where states continue to pass anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ legislation that leads to more extreme legislation.
“We had more anti-LGBTQ bills this year than almost all of my past sessions combined,” Hartman said. “The anti-trans rhetoric has ramped up all across the United States.”
Meyer pointed out, though, that in Covington, it’s the 20th anniversary of the city passing a Fairness Ordinance, and in 2020, the city was the first in the state to ban conversion therapy on minors.
“We support you, and you belong here, Meyer said. “So to have people in Frankfort make decisions about a community that they really have no idea about, to make decisions about a community that they are not a part of and the harm this may be due to LGBTQA kids … so really here at the center our mission is to get the word out and connect people to resources and continue to have these conversations.”
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