Gov. Matt Bevin said Friday he does not think a bill to determine where transgender people use the bathroom should be considered in the upcoming legislative session.
“Why? Why would we? Why would anybody need it? Is it an issue? Is there anyone you know in Kentucky who has trouble going to the bathroom?” Bevin said at a news conference Friday to talk about his first year in office and the upcoming year. “Seriously. Have you heard of one person in Kentucky having trouble taking care of business in Kentucky?”
Bevin said “the last thing we need is more government rules.”
“Making government rules for things that don’t even need government rules would be silly,” Bevin said.
Instead, Bevin said he would like lawmakers to focus on bills “that have been bottled up for years,” such as measures that would establish charter schools and allow employees to avoid paying union dues in unionized workplaces.
His comments come weeks after several Republican state House candidates campaigned heavily on the issue of where transgender people use the bathroom, blanketing airwaves and mailboxes with ads that criticized their Democratic opponents for ignoring the issue.
House Speaker-elect Jeff Hoover, who in January will become the first Republican to lead the House since 1921, has said members of his caucus are interested in the issue and that “we’ll have to look at it.”
The conservative Family Foundation of Kentucky on Friday urged lawmakers to stop school systems from implementing their own rules on where transgender students may use the bathroom.
“We agree with the governor that the government shouldn’t make rules that don’t need to be made,” said Martin Cothran, the foundation’s senior policy analyst. “Unfortunately, public schools, which are an arm of the government, are increasingly making rules on bathrooms and other school facilities that don’t need to be made and which are at odds with the values of many of the families they purport to serve.”
If the legislature does approve a transgender bathroom bill, Bevin did not specify if he would sign it into law.
The issue of transgender bathrooms is not a new one in the state legislature. The Republican-led state Senate approved a bill on a 27-9 vote in February that would limit transgender students to school bathrooms that match their biological sex. The bill died in the Democrat-led House, which Republicans will take control of in January with a 64-36 majority.
A similar bill approved in North Carolina has caused several businesses and organizations to boycott the state.
In May, Bevin joined 12 other states in a legal challenge of federal guidelines to accommodate transgender students in schools.
He criticized Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear for not joining the lawsuit.
“Did our attorney general take part even though the people of Kentucky overwhelmingly wanted him to?” Bevin said. “No. He didn’t. So who had to do it? I did. So I had to do his job for him on that issue because he was busy suing me.”