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Ky. Transgender Restroom Proposal Draws National Attention

Legislation filed by a Kentucky senator that would require transgender students to use the bathrooms labeled with the sex they were assigned at birth is attracting national media coverage.

Critics of Senate Bill 76, or the Kentucky Student Privacy Act, argue that it creates a separate-but-equal standard that will further alienate a group already at risk for bullying and intimidation.

"Gender non-conforming students, currently nearly nine in ten of them are verbally harassed at school and more than half of them have been physically assaulted at some point in time," Chris Hartman with the Kentucky Fairness Campaign tells WUKY. "This bill puts them in direct danger by targeting them, putting further scrutiny on them, and could potentially lead to increased suicide rates."

Hartman says the restrictions amount to a violation of Title IX, federal legislation passed in the 1970s that protects students from discrimination based on sex.

Kent Ostrander heads up the Family Foundation of Kentucky, the group that brought the issue to the attention of the bill sponsor, Republican Sen. C.B. Embry.

"This is not about accusing a transgendered [of] being a bad student or a bad person. This is about protecting the fundamental right of privacy that all Americans have," he says.

Ostrander adds that the bill allows for the creation of alternate or unisex bathrooms, which he argues would protect the privacy of both transgender and non-transgender students alike.  

Under the bill, students who encounter a transgender student in the wrong bathroom could sue the school for $2,500. Embry's legislation grew out of a controversy involving a Louisville high school's policy permitting a transgender student who was born male but identifies as a female to utilize the girls' restrooms.

Hartman says his organization will actively campaign against the measure should it receive a hearing and move to the Senate floor.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.