Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin announced today that he has signed bill SB 17 into law. The measure allows student organizations at high schools and colleges—under the guise of expressing religious viewpoints—to discriminate against LGBT students.
SB 17 is known as the “Charlie Brown law,” after a Kentucky school cut a bible verse from their production of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
The law specifically protects students who “voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints…. in classroom, homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments” and enshrines students’ right to “distribute religious or political literature in a public school.”
“Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardizes non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “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,” Warbelow added.
SB 17 reads:
“[Education bodies] should ensure that… no recognized religious or political student organization is hindered or discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, selection of leaders and members, defining of doctrines and principles, and resolving of organizational disputes in the furtherance of its mission, or in its determination that only persons committed to its mission should conduct these activities.”
Republican state Representative John Blanton stated “the bill just guarantees students First Amendment rights.”
update: matt bevin continues to be bad for ky higher education, lgbtq kentuckians, and just really ky in general
— sarah flaherty (@sarahkflaherty) March 20, 2017
The measure passed the Kentucky House of Representatives in an 81 to 8 vote after it passed through the Senate last month.
The confirmation of SB 17 into law comes almost exactly a year after the Kentucky Senate passed another bill that allows businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers on the basis of “religious freedom.”
h/t: Pink News