KY education chief, recently criticized by GOP, decries ‘terrifying’ anti-LGBTQ bills
Calling the Kentucky General Assembly’s passage of anti-LGBTQ legislation a “terrifying” path, Education Commissioner Jason Glass announced the state Department of Education will hold a summit in support of LGBTQIA+ people and youth.
The summit, scheduled for the fall, will focus on “resilience, connection and hope,” Glass said.
Specifics about the summit, which will be open to all those people in support of LGBTQIA+ youth, will be released later, Kentucky Department of Education spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman said.
Glass’ comments were in response to events on Thursday when the Kentucky General Assembly rushed to pass Senate Bill 150, “a sweeping and harmful piece of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation,” Glass said.
Senate Bill 150, sponsored by Republican state Sen. Max Wise, bans gender-affirming care for transgender kids as a part of an omnibus anti-LGBTQ bill.
Kentucky has real educational challenges that need the legislature’s attention, Glass said, including meaningful solutions to educator and staff shortages, support to continue academic recovery from the pandemic, funding stabilization due to ongoing health-related absences from COVID, RSV and flu, as well as urgent funding needs in growing school districts.
“But instead of addressing the real issues impacting our schools, the legislature expended its time and energy on this stitched-together bill, taking aim directly at LGBTQIA+ people,” said Glass.
The General Assembly also passed Senate Bill 107 requiring Senate approval for the Kentucky Commissioner of Education. Under current law, the Kentucky Board of Education hires the commissioner and the governor appoints state board members who are confirmed by the Senate. The legislation emerged as Glass was heavily criticized by some Republican lawmakers over inclusive LGBTQ stances.
“These kinds of laws are often put in place when there is (effectively) a one-party government,” Glass said. ”Minority and marginalized groups are frequently targeted, demonized and persecuted — fueling more of the misplaced rage and anger-tainment based politics that makes it nearly impossible for Kentucky to live up to our state motto of ‘United We Stand.’”
“The Kentucky legislature is following a terrifying, but sadly well-trodden path. In the long run, history does not reflect well on such regimes. And in the short-run, we should all be concerned about who will be their next target,” Glass continued.
Directing comments to LGBTQIA+ people and youth in Kentucky, Glass said in his Friday statement “we see you, we love you and we will continue to protect you from bullying and bigotry. In times like these, we all must find the courage to steady ourselves and to be as brave as we can.”
Lexington leader speaks out
An education leader in Lexington shared a similar statement this week.
As Fayette school board chairman Tyler Murphy convened a Thursday afternoon budget and facilities workshop at Central Office in Lexington, he made reference to a last-minute switch in the General Assembly in which Republicans revived the omnibus anti-LGBTQ bill, which included a ban on gender-affirming health care for Kentucky’s transgender youth.
Murphy said the school district was closely following what was happening in the General Assembly and engaging in the process.
”Fayette County Public Schools remains committed to our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging initiatives. We want all of our students, staff members and family members who are allies with the LGBTQ+ community to know that we see them, hear them, support them,” he said.
“We want them to know they belong here and are welcomed here,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the commitment from the district is unwavering: “That has not changed. There is nothing that will deter us.”