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Transgender Bathrooms Bill Reemerges, Provides Lesson In Legislative Process For Students

Josh James/LRC Public Information

As the clock ticks down on the session, it’s not unusual to see a frenzy of amendments attached to bills in the hopes of moving more contentious legislation through alongside measures with stronger support in both chambers. Now, a group of students with the Prichard Committee’s Student Voice Team are experiencing the frustration of that process.

The students’ bill, which would give them a say in selecting superintendents, wound its way through committees and passed on the House floor, but Monday the group learned that a pair of unfriendly amendments - one dictating which bathrooms transgender students can use and another dealing with religious speech in schools, had been attached. 

That prompted Henry Clay senior Ross Boggess to tweet “Writing your name on someone’s paper when turning it in at school isn’t fair, why is it fair to piggyback in the Senate?” with the hashtag #SaveOurBill.

C.B. Embry, the senator behind the transgender rider, said that’s just how the legislative process plays out.

"My bill passed with strong Democratic and Republican support in this chamber. They will not discuss it in the House. If they had done so, I would not have had to use this vehicle," Embry told reporters, adding, "I'm not picking on anyone. I have chosen an outstanding bill and I hope they both pass."

While Embry says the superintendent bill's popularity in the House played a key role in its selection, Speaker Greg Stumbo made it clear Tuesday that the decision could well sink the students’ legislative efforts.

"It's a shame that they would do that," Stumbo said. "Those kids worked awful hard and to slap them in the face with something like that is just a travesty, in my opinion, of justice."

The speaker said the amended version of the bill would not survive in the House.

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.
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