Students from Kentucky K-12 schools will join college students in Frankfort tomorrow morning, March 29, to protest SB150, which would allow for schools and teachers to misgender youth based on personally-held beliefs and requires schools to give parents two-weeks notice on any lessons in human sexuality. The bill also institutes a ban on gender-affirming medical care and adds a requirement for doctors to set a timeline to “detransition” youth who are already taking hormone therapies. Schools would no longer be allowed to address sexual orientation or gender with youth, nor begin teaching basic human sexuality information before the sixth grade. Schools would have to establish bathroom policies and students would be barred from legally changing their names or birth certificates. Governor Andy Beshear vetoed the bill on March 24, but the Republican super majority in the legislature could override that veto during the last two days of the legislative session on March 29 and 30.
The bill directly contradicts prominent research regarding gender-affirming care and the basic education of young people regarding healthy human sexual relationships.
Students from Atherton, Liberty, Waggener, and PRP high schools will be joined in Frankfort by students from Ramsey Middle, Bowing Elementary, Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS), as well as members of Louisville Youth Group, Progress Kentucky, Transcending Stigma, Frontrunners Lexington, JCPS school psychologists and LGBTQ advisory committee members, amongst others. The students, parents, and partnering organizations will meet in Frankfort at the capitol around 11 a.m.
In an effort to help students process the events that have put their medical care and personhood at risk, teachers from Atherton High School gave students the opportunity to respond to the anti-trans sentiment in letters.
“We have asked our members to write what their preferred pronouns mean to them,” said Atherton chemistry teacher Jules Picuri. “And, their responses are quite compelling and heartfelt. We want our legislators to hear their words and stories.”
LEO is sharing these letters with the hopes that the local community hears what these young people have to say about their identities and the importance of the adults around them supporting the growth and discovery of who they are. Some of the letters are below, but you can read them all in the 11-page document shared with LEO.
Hey! I’m CT, and I’m writing this to hopefully change your current views on the anti-trans bills that have recently been threatened by our government to be more accepting of us. I’d like you to read this as the conscious human being you are rather than as your political party. Many people vote for bills brought on by their party simply because it’s their party. Now more than ever we need YOU to step up regardless of your political beliefs and realize how many people are going to be affected by these bills if they are put in place. These are our children, students, and peers whose lives are going to be altered and endangered by these laws. I am CT, I am a living, breathing, and thinking person. I’m black, I choose to go by He/Him pronouns, and Identify as agender, or genderless. I am a standup comedian, and I hope to one day either go into the acting or music industry. I am gay, and have a partner, M, who I love dearly. He is an incredible artist and musician who has worked so hard to get where he’s at. My best friends are S, H, and L. S has spent so long learning to be proud of himself and his identity. He has remained so strong and proud after enduring things no child should ever have to endure. L is a brave, strong girl who hasn’t given up once. We are real people with things we wish to achieve in life, and that shouldn’t be taken away from us. Politics should have no place in the everyday lives of people, especially when they’re trying to REVOKE our rights.
Even if you don’t support our communities, please at least respect us and our lifestyles. We’ve fought for years to get where we are today, and to see it stripped awayso easily is heartbreaking. Please, vote alongside us. My life depends on it.—CT
I found out that I was trans back in the summer of 8th grade. I first came out to my best friend. I held off telling my parents due to being scared of their reactions. After telling my parents I told my therapist. He would often ask me questions about why I felt the way I did. This went on for some while. I later found out that my therapist at the time just told my parents that the way I was feeling was a phase. I often found myself listening to a song called “The Village” by Wrabel. I would find myself crying to this song. There was a part of the song that hit me the most. “No, your mom don’t get it. And your dad don’t get it, Uncle John don’t get it. And you can’t tell grandma. ‘Cause her heart can’t take it and she might not make it. They say, “Don’t dare, don’t you even go there”. “Cutting off your long hair”. “You do as you’re told”. Tell you, “Wake up, go put on your makeup”. “This is just a phase you’re gonna outgrow” This part hit me hard because I felt like I had no one to go to, no one who would understand. I felt like I was wrong, that what I was doing wasn’t okay, that it wasn’t normal.
For the longest time I never said anything more because I didn’t like the fact that my parents thought that it was just a phase and that I would grow out of it. It hurt because to me it felt as though they didn’t believe me. I went through times where I thought that maybe I should just accept the fact that I was born a female. That I shouldn’t try to push how I identified. Oftentimes I had thought of just ending it all. I had thought that it would be the easiest thing to do, if I ended it all I wouldn’t have to constantly try to tell people that I wasn’t going through a phase, that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, that I wasn’t doing this for attention.
It got better, my parents came around. They make some mistakes here and there but I know that they’re trying. But on October 20, 2022 things changed. I got overstressed and after someone made a comment to me I tried to kill myself. Their comment made me come to terms with reality. They said “You know even if you get all these surgeries you’ll never be an actual guy. You weren’t born a male and you’ll just have to live with that knowledge.” I came home that night frustrated and irritated. I was hurt… I didn’t want my parents to know. Memories with what I had to go through just to be accepted by people I loved and cared about came rushing back to me. All those doubts and insecurities hit me. I had never been more emotionally damaged than I was right then. So I tried to kill myself. I was done living like that. I was done letting people tell me what was right and what was wrong. I was done with people not believing me. I just wanted it all to end.
This is just what happened to me. But this could be a huge factor in someone else’s life. This could be the choice that decides whether or not someone will stay on this earth on this day next year. So please think hard about your decisions. I’ve had to go through so much heartache and struggle. Please don’t do this to someone else.
I am a seventeen year old student at Atherton High School. I am a transgender man, and I have struggled for so long learning who I am. I am currently in a relationship with another man, whose identity will also not be disclosed. I have spent the last seven years of my life trying to figure out who I am as a person. Many people in my life have told me that I just need to be myself, but it seems like any time that I try to do that, the government or my own family is out to get me. I found out that I wasn’t a girl in the sixth grade, and I started to refer to myself as a demi-girl, or someone who only partially identifies as a woman.
Since then, I have slowly begun to figure out that I am not a girl at all. I am a man in the wrong body. I found this out in the eighth grade, after an assignment at a school in Indiana had me begin questioning who I was again. I’ve always known that I liked any and all people, I knew it from when I was a little kid, and I sobbed to my mother in the car, “Mama, I think that I like girls!” and she said that it was alright to like girls. But, I don’t believe that she thought that I would still like girls and boys and anything in between or outside of it to this day. About a year ago, I came out to my mother as non-binary, although I still knew that I was a man– I believed that this would be the gentlest approach to her accepting me. She told me, “No, you’re not nonbinary, because I do not feel like you are nonbinary.”
This stung, and it still bleeds like an open wound tended to with salt every time one of these new laws are introduced. I remember the Thanksgiving day when I came out to my family as bisexual, and they didn’t mind it one bit. Only this year, I came out to my mother as pansexual and trans. She was on the fence for a while, but she’s been trying her hardest to be supportive of me, and I appreciate that so much. I understand how hard it is for her, but can you imagine how difficult it is for kids without supportive parents?
And for the longest time, I was kept in the dark about how my Aunt’s side of the family truly felt about gay people. My Aunt believes that gay people shouldn’t marry, and that transgender people shouldn’t exist. She told my 10 year old cousin, now 11, that, “Transgender people kill themselves because they are transgender.”
For the longest time, that has stuck with me. The fact that a grown woman would tell a child that transgender people only kill themselves because they were transgender was outrageous. There’s so much more to that than just “being trans”. The fact that we as a minority deal with laws being passed to take away such simple rights such as using the bathroom, or using a preferred name, or even pronouns is what leads young individuals to kill themselves.
Having no support from their families or education system makes it even worse. Even in times of great need, now the school system isn’t even safe anymore. For many kids, this has already been an issue, but at the very least, it got them away from their unsupportive family. Now that these laws are being put in place, and dragged into school systems, issues like feeling like they aren’t wanted anywhere are going to arise even more than they previously had.
The reason that transgender people kill themselves, isn’t because “they are trans”, it’s because of the constant lack of support from their families, from the government — the constant harassment from other people that don’t “agree with their lifestyles”— the berating that they receive from parents that don’t support them, sending them to camps or abusing them and telling them that they need to “fix themselves”— getting kicked out of their homes simply for saying that they have a transgender friend, or that they are transgender— these laws being passed taking away their rights every single day, whether or not it’s a nationwide or a statewide law– being told that they can’t receive care because they don’t align with what they were assigned with at birth — issues with their bodies and how other people perceive their bodies… and so so much more that can’t even be put into words.
I remember when I went to my old school, before Atherton, I would get bullied for being a “weird kid” or even get called names or derogatory terms just for wanting to be anything but a girl. I knew who I was, and despite that, I was still being told who I had to. I’m nearly legally an adult, and now– not only are transphobes and homophobes around me doing it, but the government itself is telling me that I don’t deserve to have rights. That I don’t deserve to be human. It makes me sick to see these laws being passed, especially with barely supporting parents, and horrible family members. I’ve seen kids younger than me being assaulted and killed by their fellow students, or even their own family. I’ve had friends tell me that their parents have said hateful and hurtful things to them just for saying that they were thinking of being something else that they previously weren’t. I’ve dealt with my Aunt spewing constant hatred, teaching her own child to do the same.
I know how difficult it is to be transgender in America. I know how much it hurts to have family not support you. I know how much it hurts to be told that you’re worthless, just because you’re trying to “be who you are”. This country talks so much about how we reserve our rights to freedom– our rights to represent ourselves. Where are our rights to simply be human? Where are our rights to breathe, to sleep, to eat the same way that all other human beings on this planet get to? Why don’t we get to take a walk on the street with our families without being called some derogatory term, or without getting the shit beaten out of us for wearing a skirt or a binder? Why don’t we get to be just like you are? What have we done wrong to deserve the way that we’re being treated in these coming years?
I want you to answer these questions in due time. I want you to sit down and think about the seventeen year old asking you, begging and pleading for you to give him reasons why he isn’t viewed the same way that everyone else is– the reasoning for what he, what transgender people as a whole, have done to be treated this way by the enforcement they rely upon to protect them. I’ve always wanted to be a politician so I can do what’s right for this country. But every single day, I see that chance becoming slimmer and slimmer, and hope is barely within our grasp. We are people too, and we hope that you see that.
Editor’s Note: As these students prepare to face the adults in the state legislature, it felt appropriate to recall that many of the signatories on SB150 and other similar legislations use Christianity and the Bible as a way to justify their hatred. The Bible says many things, including this: At that time Jesus declared, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children (Matthew 11:25). And, in the same book, Matthew 21: 16, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise?'” From praise to criticism, children speak honestly and without filters.