GOP Ky. state lawmakers urge ouster of education commissioner over inclusive LGBTQ stance
Three Republican state lawmakers said Wednesday they were filing resolutions urging the ouster of Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass, who has been criticized for inclusive LGBTQ policies.
Rep. Josh Calloway, R-Irvington, speaking at a rally hosted by the conservative Family Foundation in the Capitol rotunda, said he was going to file a resolution “for the Kentucky Board of Education to send him packing.”
Calloway’s resolution, filed along with Rep. Bill Wesley, R-Ravenna, urges the Kentucky Board of Education to dismiss Glass but is not binding in any way.
“My children don’t belong to the government. They don’t belong to the school,” Calloway said. “And they also do not belong to Commissioner Jason Glass. ... We are not going to stand idly by and let these things happen.”
Sen. Lindsey Tichenor, R-Smithfield, filed a similar resolution urging the state board to dismiss Glass.
Glass has a four year contract with the Kentucky Board of Education, expiring in September of 2024, said Kentucky Department of Education spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman.
“No one with the General Assembly has had the courage or the courtesy to send us any such resolutions, so we are not able to comment on them definitively,” Tatman said. “Such last minute and clouded actions have, disappointingly, become normal operating procedure with our state legislature.”
At the rally, Tichenor said KDE policies “withhold information from parents, threaten teachers for non compliance if they’re not using pronouns, and openly politicizing students and creating activists on our dime. Did you see the buses roll in today?”
The buses Tichenor referred to were from Jefferson County Public Schools, which had a large student presence at the Capitol to protest Senate Bill 150, which bans gender-affirming care for trans youth.
“Engaging in civic activities is a valuable part of the educational experience,” district spokesperson Carolyn Callahan said in an email to The Herald-Leader. “Today’s field trip to Frankfort was student-led and student-centered. JCPS supports students’ right to free speech.”
Callahan said all student participants had signed permission slips from their parents or guardians.
The Republican Party of Kentucky also took issue with students missing school.
“Our kids struggle to read and do math, but Andy Beshear and Jason Glass are allowing school districts to send kids to Frankfort to protest Republican legislation – and they are paying for it!” party spokesperson Sean Southard said in a statement. “Andy Beshear and Jason Glass are so committed to radical gender ideology in our schools that they would rather send students to the capitol to protest instead of their classes.”
In response, Glass said the RPK was peddling “another invented fanciful conspiracy theory.”
“If the Kentucky GOP has evidence that I provided excuses, funding, or any other material support for the protests at the capitol today, I simply ask that they prove it - I’ll be waiting,” Glass said. “The reason people are protesting at the capitol today is a result of the Kentucky General Assembly’s bigoted, hateful, and shameful legislation, SB 150. Instead of trying to pin this on someone else, legislators who feel uncomfortable with the attention they are getting because of this issue should reflect on their own actions and statements.”
The Senate resolution cites Glass’ “improper interference with the rights of parents and the negative impact of his statements and policies on teacher retention.”
The resolution said Glass politicized the Kentucky Department of Education by issuing guidance to Kentucky schools “advocating for, affirming, and elevating the LGBTQIA+ lifestyle in curriculum.”
The resolution said Glass had endangered students with his stance that discouraging students from using a bathroom designated for the opposite sex created barriers for transgender and nonbinary students.
The resolution maintains that under guidance to Kentucky schools, when a student discloses their sexual orientation or gender identity to an educator with the assumption that the information is private, that the educator should keep the confidence.
The resolution said Glass had caused “a chilling effect” on free speech rights by emphasizing that an educator should use a student’s preferred pronouns and should find something else to do if the educator does not want to follow district policy on that point.
The resolution also criticizes Glass for promoting a summit in support of LGBTQIA+ people and youth “that he intends to hold at taxpayers expense.”
Glass has been at odds with some Republican lawmakers for inclusive LGBTQ policies and his criticism of their focus on culture wars.
Sharing opposing viewpoints and perspectives is a cornerstone of a healthy and functional democracy, Tatman said Wednesday.
“It should be concerning that some members of the Kentucky Legislature are adopting the tactics of authoritarian regimes, which include threatening, silencing and removing anyone who disagrees with them,” she said. “The Commissioner remains unbowed by such actions and stands behind his commitment to support all students and all people.”
Earlier in March, Glass responded to the pushback he’s received from lawmakers.
“The Kentucky legislature is following a terrifying, but sadly well-trodden path. In the long run, history does not reflect well on such regimes. And in the short-run, we should all be concerned about who will be their next target,” Glass said in the earlier statement.
Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear has vetoed Senate Bill 107, which would have required for the first time the state Senate to confirm the appointment of Kentucky’s education commissioner.
Reporter Austin Horn contributed to this article.