Class action lawsuit seeks to halt enforcement of anti-trans law in Lexington public schools

by Sarah Ladd, Kentucky Lantern

A class action lawsuit against Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron and the Fayette County Board of Education argues that students’ constitutional and privacy rights are violated by a new anti-trans Kentucky law and asks the court to block its enforcement in Lexington schools. 

Senate Bill 150, enacted by the legislature earlier this year over Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto, requires local school boards to implement policies keeping youngsters from using bathrooms, locker rooms or showers that “are reserved for students of a different biological sex.” The law also places new restrictions on sex education in public schools.

The Friday lawsuit argues that the law is depriving Fayette County LGBTQIA+ students of an education experience that is equal to that of their peers. 

“Parents and children in Kentucky have a fundamental, constitutionally based right to receive a public education,” says the lawsuit filed on behalf of the anonymous parents of four children. “By virtue of this fundamental, constitutional right, the General Assembly, and the Defendants, possess  no  power  or  authority  to establish or  enforce arbitrary, discriminatory,  and privacy-invasive conditions that restrict or burden the right of every child to receive…an appropriate and quality public education.” 

Who are the plaintiffs? 

In addition to seeking class status, the plaintiffs  are asking the court to allow them to remain unidentified to avoid stigmatization, discrimination and harassment, saying the age of the students — all younger than 18 — makes them especially vulnerable.

One of the plaintiffs, a nonbinary student, 10, has “(come) home from school in tears and in severe distress”because of a classmate’s “intentional disrespect and abusive ‘misgendering,’” the suit says. This student’s “educational success has been adversely impacted” as well, court documents say. 

A Fayette schools employee also has misgendered the student, the suit alleges. 

Another family alleges that their transgender daughter, 10, was denied access to the girl’s restroom in August during a school break “when all children were permitted to  use  the restroom” even though the student used the girl’s restroom “without incident” for three years. 

“School  personnel instructed  (this child) to use another ‘special’ restroom located on the other side of the school and nowhere near her classroom where her female friends used the restroom during restroom breaks,” the suit says. “The location of this other restroom…consumed far more time away from class for her than if she had simply been allowed to use the girls’ restroom as she had always been allowed to do in previous years without incident.” 

This student told her parents she was “so humiliated and embarrassed by being segregated” from friends that she “will not use the restroom at school at all and will instead ‘hold it’ until she gets home.” 

The parents of a 17-year-old transgender boy alleges he is now not using the bathroom at school after three years of being able to use the male restroom. If he were to use the girl’s restroom, the suit says, it would be uncomfortable for girls because “female students know him as a male.” 

This student “feels  his  educational  opportunities and  success are disrupted when others intentionally refuse not to recognize or treat him in accord with his transgender identity as male.” 

The suit asks for expedited review and for “restraining  order, temporary  injunction,  and/or permanent injunction” to “(prohibit) any further discrimination within the Fayette County public schools on the basis of sex.” 

District schools spokesperson Dia Davidson-Smith said in a statement that while “there are many questions surrounding the implementation of Senate Bill 150,” the school system “is committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students, working in partnership with families, and following the requirements of state law.”

Photo: Protesters chant “shame, shame, shame” after a Kentucky legislative committee advanced anti-trans legislation, March 2, 2023, in the Kentucky Capitol Annex. (Kentucky Lantern photo by Sarah Ladd)