FCPS won’t follow total ban on teaching gender, sex as questions about SB 150 continue
A new state law banning gender identity and sexual orientation instruction likely won’t apply to middle and high school students in Fayette County, the school board indicated at its Monday night meeting.
Board members said they will follow new Kentucky Department of Education guidance that allows districts to choose to teach students in 6th grade and above about sexual orientation and gender identity. The guidance, issued last week, called attention to the use of “or” instead of “and” in a bulleted list of prohibited curriculum included in Senate Bill 150.
The word “or” links proposed bans on any instruction “on human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)” in grades K-5 to a ban on instruction on “gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation” for all grades. The KDE guidance says that schools should interpret the use of “or” as a directive to choose one of those two bans.
SB 150 was a GOP priority bill that Republicans said protected school children and Democrats said was anti-LGBTQ.
Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, was the sponsor of SB 150. In a statement he said the KDE’s guidance was “an absurd effort to skirt state law.”
If school districts choose to enact the K-5 ban on sexuality and STDs, then they’d be able to still offer instruction related to gender identity and sexual orientation, according to the KDE guidance.
“Under this scenario, instruction on curriculum for human sexuality or sexually transmitted diseases at the high school level would not be impacted,” the KDE guidance, which is non-binding for school districts, reads.
Board chairman Tyler Murphy said the KDE guidance says that the “or” in SB 150 gives districts a choice between which two of the policies to consider “and for the second reading we are bringing back a policy that only includes the K-5 ban.”
“It follows the guidance from KDE, which is our standard practice,” Murphy told the Herald-Leader Tuesday. “Among what is presented, this particular language is most clear and will allow us to focus resources on student success while avoiding uncertainty and confusion that could otherwise negatively impact appropriate and relevant course concepts.”
The school board can adopt the policy following a second reading. That will be pending a vote of the board, Murphy said.
Murphy said the current Kentucky standards already include instruction on health topics like puberty and life cycle changes in 5th grade, so it would necessitate districts shifting those topics to 6th grade or higher.
“I’m just speaking generally. I can’t yet speak to how FCPS would approach the curriculum as that falls to the superintendent/schools,” he said.
There are two other policies in SB 150 that the Fayette school board will have to vote on: one relates to a complaint process on instructional materials and the other on the use of the bathrooms, Murphy said.