Fayette schools update policy to reflect state-ordered rules affecting LGBTQ students
The Fayette County Public School board is implementing sweeping state legislation critics have labeled “anti-trans.” The board is, however, leaving out one provision Republican lawmakers say they intended to be mandatory.
Monday night, the board adopted policy updates ordered by the GOP-led General Assembly — among them are rules barring transgender students from using restrooms and locker areas not aligned with their “biological sex” and prohibiting any rules requiring teachers to use students’ preferred pronouns.
Following a rally supporting LGBTQ students, Lafayette High School teacher and LGBTQIA+ advisor Lauren Sherrow was one of around 30 people who showed up for public comment at the board’s meeting.
"We just want to make sure our kids are taken care of and that Fayette County Schools is going to do whatever they can within their power to work around this new legislation," she said.
One way activists are hoping to guide policy is by having schools designate bathrooms as gender-neutral and construct single-stall restrooms in future buildings.
One speaker said, "Preventing transgender from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity disregards their basic human rights and undermines their well-being."
But commenters acknowledged the board is largely hemmed in by state law.
The only provision where Fayette County took some liberty is in following contested Kentucky Department of Education guidance that suggests SB 150 permits districts to take an and/or approach to two provisions: barring teaching on human sexuality grades 5 and under, and barring any teaching on gender identity or sexual orientation.
The board opted out of the second provision, but did hear from two speakers who said the subjects don’t fall within the district’s mission.
"What Fayette County Public Schools is doing right now has nothing to do with academics," one speaker argued. "It's all about how you feel and how you feel about the person that's next to you."
Those speakers are likely to prevail eventually. Superintendent Demetrus Liggins said the district expects that the disputed language in the bill — boiling down to a single word — will be altered by the General Assembly.
"We fully anticipate that at a future time action will be taken so that the 'or' will become a 'nor' and the line we are striking tonight will be added in," he explained.
The bill’s Republican sponsor, Sen. Max Wise, has called it “an absurd attempt” by state education officials to skirt the law.
But in the meantime, board chair Tyer Murphy had this message for the district.
"Most importantly, I want every student, staff member, and family here in Fayette County Public Schools who is listening to know that they have a board of education team, a superintendent, that sees them, hears them, that values and respects them, and will continue to do so, each and every step of the way," he said.
Just what that means for future policy has yet to be seen.