Last week, Kentucky governor Matt Bevin signed a legislation that would allow students to cite religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against their peers. Specifically, the law would allow student organizations at public schools to exclude LGBTQ members.
Senator Albert Robinson, who introduced the bill, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the bill was designed for students' rights, "so that the public school can be a place where religious and political ideas can be expressed without fear of suppression." Robinson also said that the bill was also partly a reaction to Johnson County school officials cutting a Bible verse from a production of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Under the law, students can discuss political and religious views in their assignments without punishment, but no "recognized or religious political student organization is hindered or discriminated against." Student groups can, then, ban LGBTQ members and cite religious beliefs as a reason — without legal recourse.
“Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign. “No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ. While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.”
According to the Human Rights Campaign, the law is just one of "more than 100 anti-LGBTQ legislative proposals in 30 states." Though the Trump administration vowed earlier this year to uphold Obama-era protections for LGBTQ workers, laws like this prove that their promise doesn't necessarily protect the LGBTQ community from wider discriminations.