A proposal in the Kentucky legislature would require that transgender students avoid school restrooms, locker rooms and showers that don’t correspond with their sex assigned at birth.
The Kentucky Student Privacy Act, sponsored by Republican state Sen. C.B. Embry, is also designed to punish school administrators who give transgender students access to school facilities designated for the opposite sex.
“Parents have a reasonable expectation that schools will not allow minor children to be viewed in various states of undress by members of the opposite biological sex, nor allow minor children to view members of the opposite sex in various states of undress,” the bill states.
If a school administrator allowed a transgender student to use a facility designated for the opposite sex or if a school “failed to take reasonable steps to prohibit the person encountered from using from facilities designated for use by the opposite biological sex,” students would be allowed to sue the school, according to the bill.
Aggrieved students could seek up to $2,500 in damages from the offending school for each time they encountered a person of the opposite sex in school facilities, as well as “for all psychological, emotional and physical harm suffered,” according to the bill’s language. The offending school, the bill notes, would be required to pay the attorney fees and costs associated with the claim.
Embry told U.S. News & World Report that he filed the bill on behalf of the Family Foundation of Kentucky following a Louisville, Ky,. high school’s decision to allow a transgender student to use female facilities. He said that he may change the bill’s language to discourage students from “staging incidents” to win money.
Despite a large amount of blowback in the form of angry e-mails calling him bigoted, Embry insisted he has no problem with transgendered students.
“They’re certainly welcome to live their lives as they choose, if they want to dress as the opposite sex and the school is OK with that, that’s fine,” he said.
— Will Cox (@WillCoxKY) January 17, 2015
Thomas Aberli, principal of Atherton High School, the Louisville school that approved a policy allowing students to use school facilities of the gender they identified with, told the BG Daily News that he’s taken time to talk to people about their concerns and the majority of the community has been supportive. He added that the school hadn’t had any major problems implementing the new policy.
“It’s a non-issue in this school,” Aberli said.
Though Embry believes it’s important to keep transgendered students out of spaces where members of the opposite biological state are undressed, he said he doesn’t want to ban gay and lesbian students from places from where members of their biological sex congregate, according to U.S. News & World Report.
“I don’t think we can create a situation where no one is ever offended or uncomfortable,” he told the publication.
“I have a friend, and we can all say these things, who is a homosexual and she agrees that she doesn’t want men in her bathroom,” he added.
Embry added that he also supports anti-bullying legislation, telling U.S. News & World Report: “I am very much in favor of strong anti-bullying laws that protect students no matter what the reason for bullying may be — fat or short, don’t speak plain, sexual orientation, whatever.”