In a surprising turn of events, Nevada Senate Democrats made a late-night amendment to Assembly Bill 423, targeting elected school board officials and their ability to adopt certain policies regarding transgender and gender in their districts.
The original language of AB 423 focused on restricting the time of day during which school district boards of trustees could take action or corrective measures at meetings. It also allowed the board to limit public comment under certain circumstances. Although Democrats have abandoned their attempt to curtail public speech through this legislation, ironically, the last-minute move prevented robust public debate on the issue, while it perverted the intention of the original bill that passed through the Assembly with unanimous support.
The new language reads:
A board of trustees shall not adopt a policy that limits the access of a pupil because of race, religious creed, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, ancestry, familial status, or sex, to school facilities or activities. If the Department finds that a board of trustees adopts a policy that violates the provisions of subsection 1, the Department may impose an administrative penalty of not more than $5,000 for each day that the policy is in effect.
Clark County School Board Trustee Katie Williams voiced her opposition to the amendment Tuesday night on Twitter, writing:
Eventually we have to say enough is enough. We need to protect our students and stop forcing ideological concepts that have lifelong side effects. Learn from the [#BudLight] fiasco. Nobody wants this! #AB423
— Katie J. Williams (@realkatiejow) May 24, 2023
The NV Dems amendment appears to be a direct result of an agenda item heard in a contentious Douglas County school board meeting earlier this month. District Superintendent Keith Lewis published and designated agenda item 19 as a “transgender policy” for the May 16th meeting. However, Douglas County School District Board President Susan Jansen clarified that the primary purpose of this agenda item was to protect girls, emphasizing that it was not a transgender policy.
A week ago, Senator Fabian Doñate tweeted in reaction to the Douglas County school board’s agenda item, calling the policy, “inhumane.”
The discrimination of students to participate in school-based activities or restricting access to facilities is not only shocking, it’s inhumane.
The state has an obligation to protect the civil rights of all students, regardless of their background or identity. https://t.co/E2r4XZgxG4
— Fabian Doñate (@fabiandonate) May 17, 2023
The ACLU Nevada has threatened to file a lawsuit if the board adopts any policy that adheres to Title IX protections, while the school district is currently accepting applications for new legal counsel.
The newly constructed version of the bill is likely to pass the Senate and reach Governor Joe Lombardo’s desk.
Governor Lombardo recently joined a coalition of 25 governors advocating for the restoration of protection in girls’ sports in response to the Biden Administration’s proposed Title IX rules. These rules, introduced by the Department of Education, aim to broaden the definition of sex discrimination to include gender identity, thus preventing schools and colleges from prohibiting transgender athletes. If implemented, this rule would prevent federally funded educational institutions from maintaining policies that students adhere to competing on teams consistent with their biological sex.
Nevada Democrats have now aligned themselves with the Biden administration’s attempt to dismantle Title IX protections through the amendment of AB423. This comes after Question 1, a radical Equal Rights Amendment to the state constitution that passed the first of two voter approvals on the 2022 ballot, which would expand to include gender expression and identity:
Question 1 would amend Nevada’s Constitution to ensure equal rights for all, “regardless of race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry, or national origin,”
Instead of waiting for voters to approve the constitutional change, the legislature is implementing this concept through the law to apply to school districts.
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