Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has signed a law which allows anti-LGBT discrimination at schools.
SB 17, which was signed into law on Monday 20 March, allows student organisations at high schools and colleges to discriminate against LGBT+ students based on their religious beliefs.
It undermines inclusive “all comers” policies, which many places of education have in place, that require all student organisations receiving financial support from the institution not to discriminate.
SB 17 reads: “[Education bodies] should ensure that… no recognised religious or political student organisation is hindered or discriminated against in the ordering of its internal affairs, selection of leaders and members, defining of doctrines and principles, and resolving of organisational disputes in the furtherance of its mission, or in its determination that only persons committed to its mission should conduct these activities.”
The ‘religious freedom’ bill, which was introduced after a Kentucky school cut a Bible verse from its production of A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2015, passed the Kentucky House of Representatives in an 81 to 8 vote.
It also states that students who “voluntarily express religious or political viewpoints… in classroom, homework, artwork, other written and oral assignments” will be protected by the law.
Human Rights Campaign’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said: “Governor Bevin’s shameful decision to sign this discriminatory bill into law jeopardises non-discrimination policies at public high schools, colleges, and universities.
“No student should fear being excluded from a school club or participating in a school activity because they are LGBTQ.
“While of course private groups should have the freedom to express religious viewpoints, they should not be able to unfairly discriminate with taxpayer funds.”