Whitesburg, KY--Young leaders from Letcher County, Kentucky responded quickly to an announcement Wednesday that the Letcher County Fiscal Court will be proposing an ordinance stating that Letcher County will not comply with any law that opens public restrooms to transgendered people.
According to the Whitesburg Mountain Eagle, District One Magistrate Bobby Howard told the court Monday night that many of his constituents are outraged by the federal government’s lawsuit against North Carolina as well as a directive by President Barack Obama’s administration that public schools must allow students to use facilities consistent with their gender identity.
Howard insisted the fiscal court initiate an ordinance stating that Letcher County will not comply with any law that opens public restrooms to transgendered people.
Read below and share a letter drafted by youth from Letcher County , and contact the Letcher County Fiscal Court and let them know you sand against this act of violence against the transgender community in Eastern Kentucky. Two of the authors will hand deliver this letter during the fiscal court meeting tomorrow in Whitesburg.
May 19th, 2016
Dear Letcher County Fiscal Court,
We are a collection of young leaders, most of us in high school, who have lived and grown up in this county. We are writing to address the bathroom ordinance that you are proposing to pass in our county. It is our expectation that you will seriously consider our address as community members and leaders of this county and region.
This policy does not reflect the community we have lived and grown up in. People in a community are supposed to help their fellow community members and this ordinance does the opposite, going a long way just to suppress a particular group of its citizens.We are a community built on love, trust and mutual support, yet none of those values are present in this ordinance.
Beginning with North Carolina’s HB2, the topic of transgender individuals has recently been pushed into a very public light — a light shining mainly in other places. Upon hearing news of a very hastily made decision to impose such an ordinance, many of us in the area were alarmed and appalled. Never before has this been an issue and it's likely to never become one. Why are key members of our local government suddenly frightened? The transgender community here is small to begin with, and those folks have been sharing restrooms for years. In fact, most of our restaurants and businesses offer only a single stall for each gendered restroom. Just because a topic is an attention-grabbing headline on a national scale, doesn’t mean we should jump on the bandwagon. The last thing the county needs is irrationally based, bigoted viewpoints on our public bathrooms.
To those who say that citizens would use a flexible restroom policy to prey on children, there has not been one documented case of a transgendered person doing so. However, a woman in Connecticut was attacked just this week because people mistook her for being transgendered. This is a law that encourages hate and fear toward transgender citizens.
How would our county enforce this discriminatory law? Would everyone in Letcher County need to carry their birth certificate and feel the threat of personal inspections just for the right to use a restroom? Would funds from the Fiscal Court be allocated to an appointed bathroom-checking official? This brings us to a major question: why are we spending local government time and resources on this ordinance in the first place? There is no precedent for an ordinance, as there is no immediate conflict or history of which in our county that this would solve. We are an economically distressed county with Promise Zone designation that can’t even afford to keep our community centers and recycling center open. We are in an area that is on the brink of suffering a potential HIV epidemic from intravenous substance abuse. We are also in the midst of an economic transition that would not only benefit our county, but our entire region if we focus on making wise decisions now. We have real, urgent concerns facing our community right now, and a cheap political tactic based in fear and not in evidence should not be prioritized over those concerns.
We as youth leaders of Letcher County strongly recommend that the Fiscal Court reconsiders its stance on a highly controversial, highly discriminatory and highly unnecessary act of systemic violence towards transgender members of our community. We strongly recommend that the Fiscal Court instead shifts its priorities towards a plan for our county — all of our county — to flourish socially, economically, responsibly and fairly. We want a local governing body that will work for us all, because we believe in a #WhitesburgForAll, a #LetcherCountyForAll and an #AppalachiaForAll.
The Young Leaders of Letcher County