NKY schools unlikely to be affected by Senate Bill 150 guidelines

Mark Payne
Mark Payne
Mark Payne is the government and politics reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected].

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The Kentucky Department of Education released its guidelines for schools to implement the new Kentucky law that bans teaching sexual identity in the classroom and gives guidelines on how transgender students can use bathrooms in schools.

The new law prohibits schools from teaching sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms, forces transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with the gender assigned at birth and allows teachers to deadname transgender students.

The law also bans puberty blockers, gender-affirming surgery, or hormones for those under the age of 18 — this part of the bill will take effect later this summer.

But, schools in Northern Kentucky are already in compliance, according to Dr. Randy Poe, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Education Council and former superintendent in Boone County.

“In talking with the majority of the districts in Northern Kentucky, most of them have already been in compliance with most of, if not all, the guidelines within Senate Bill 150,” Poe said. “So I don’t see that it’s going to be much of a difference for how districts in Northern Kentucky are operating.”

The guidelines released by the Education Department say schools should be “prepared to provide comprehensive notice of the health services and mental health services available to students upon enrollment. Additionally, schools should develop procedures for notifying families of referrals to health services or mental health services by a teacher.”

However, the department points out a few areas where there will be some confusion. The first is around student privacy.

The new law says, “A district or school shall not adopt policies or procedures to keep any student information confidential from parents.”

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The education department’s guidance said the definition of a parent under the new law is not the same as in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Further, the department can’t provide guidance on the use of requested pronouns. However, “School districts should remain aware of the legal landscape applicable to transgender students, including current and proposed Title IX regulations,” the guidelines read.

The pronoun guidelines and bathroom guidelines under the bill could potentially violate a law against sex stereotyping, according to the KDE guidelines.

 The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit wrote in Dodds v. United States Department of Education that “Under settled law in this Circuit [which includes Kentucky], gender nonconformity as defined in Smith v. City of Salem, is an individual’s ‘fail[ure] to act and/or identify with his or her gender … . Sex stereotyping based on a person’s gender non-conforming behavior is impermissible discrimination.”

Poe thinks the bill will play out in the courts — especially around Title IX and athletics.

“I think the biggest issue that you’re going to have is the difference within the state and federal policy in relationship to athletics,” Poe said.

According to Poe, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association will have to issue guidance on the different things in relation to Title IX and other statutes in this particular area.

“The biggest issue is the litigation that will probably come from Senate Bill 150 over participation in athletics, and ultimately, the courts are going to have to decide that particular issue because there is a conflict between federal and state policy,” Poe said.

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