Transgender Ky. school board member speaks out against bills targeting LGBTQ community

Transgender Ky. school board member speaks out against bills targeting LGBTQ community
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 10:24 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Several controversial bills have been introduced in this legislative session. That includes what opponents call anti-LGBTQ legislation that they say targets youth.

Activists are putting up a fight but say it can be mentally taxing, especially when it comes to sensitive topics. They want youth to know they are not alone.

Transgender Berea School Board member Rebecca Blankenship has spent a lot of time in Frankfort this session.

“I think a lot of LGBT people in Kentucky have felt afraid, they’ve felt confused, they’ve felt attacked,” said Blankenship.

She and others in the LGBTQ community have watched controversial bills pass through, despite strong opposition.

“Seeing bills pass that cost children’s lives is obviously deeply painful. But frankly, not totally unexpected,” said Blankenship.

Bills range from using preferred pronouns in schools and turning to teachers or mental health professionals to talk about their sexuality.

“I grew up in a Kentucky that was not as accepting of LGBT people as the one that we have now. I am convinced that if we go backward, that we will see immense cost to people we care about,” said Blankenship.

It is a sensitive topic that Blankenship says is mentally taxing to LGBTQ youth who already feel marginalized.

“I sincerely believe that the legislators are genuine in their desire to stand up for kids that have been deeply marginalized, and make sure those kids are protected. But they’re being lied to about the best way to do that,” said Blankenship.

Officials with Lexington’s National Alliance on Mental Illness say the legislation has taken a toll on youth, saying they don’t feel listened to and adding that the youth suicide rate is dangerously high.

Blankenship says she will continue to be a voice and believes there are lawmakers working to make a difference.

“What we’re concerned about I think is that the bill is going to rush through before there is time to be deliberative about how to protect these kids,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship says activists are encouraging people to rally together at the capitol on Thursday.

There is a committee hearing Thursday at noon for a bill opponents say would prohibit health and mental health professionals from providing information or providing health care services to any youth on the topic of gender-affirming issues or treatment.