A bill that would have prevented transgender students from using locker room and restroom facilities for the sex they identify as failed in committee Thursday in the General Assembly.
The bill needed seven yes votes to move forward but received only six, according to state Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, chairman of the Senate Education Committee.
Legislators in the committee heard testimony from Henry Brousseau, a transgender student at Louisville Collegiate School, who told them that using a female bathroom when he identifies as a male is the wrong option for him.
He said during the Frankfort hearing that not being able to use the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity would send a message to students at his school that the school administration didn’t support that identity, and they didn’t have to, either.
“I don’t feel like I should have to change my life to accommodate their hatred,” he said when asked about whether other students who felt uncomfortable with him using the boys’ restroom should also be accommodated.
State Sen. C.B. Embry, who sponsored the bill, said his bill would give schools multiple choices for how to deal with transgender students using the restroom.
“This bill deals with privacy, choice and common sense,” the Morgantown Republican said.
Embry said during the hearing that he believes the bill would eliminate a great deal of bullying by eliminating confrontations surrounding bathroom use.
He also presented changes to the bill in committee that included removing a provision that would allow students who encounter a person of the opposite biological sex in a restroom, locker room or shower room to recover $2,500 from the school if school personnel gave permission for the student encountered to use the facility or failed to take reasonable steps to prohibit the person encountered from using the facility.
Wilson said in a text message that it is possible that the bill could come up again.
“I think the bill would have been a way to accommodate transgender students’ needs without creating concerns from other students or parents of those students with students of the opposite biological sex in the bathroom with them at the same time,” he said in the text message.
Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, said his organization is cautiously optimistic about the bill’s failure in committee, because issues such as the one tackled in the bill tend to come up again.
“We’re incredibly excited that the bill failed in committee,” he said. “It’s a bit of a historic success.”
Hartman said the Fairness Campaign is concerned about the bill being brought up again, which he said would be unwise because it doesn’t have popular support.
He specifically cited a Daily News online poll in which 22.1 percent of respondents said they support the bill. The poll was not scientific and was posted on the Fairness Campaign Facebook page for people to vote.
“It’s not a popular bill,” he said. “It’s not a bill that resolves any problem right now.”
— Follow government beat writer Katie Brandenburg at twitter.com/BGDNgovtbeat