Mara Powell

Statement from Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates

LOUISVILLE, KY – Today’s vote by the Senate Families & Children Committee to advance House Bill 470 with Senator Max Wise’s committee substitute is a sad reminder of the trajectory of the General Assembly when it comes to kids and mental health this legislative session.

Only a few years ago, Senate Bill 1 of 2019 – architected by Senator Wise himself and the late Representative Bam Carney – was hailed as a national exemplar. Kentucky tackled school safety in research-based ways rather than following the political rhetoric associated with that issue. And moreover, the Commonwealth was applying imaginative and innovative thinking to mental health supports for our children. Folks across this country saw Kentucky as a place where every kid counted! EVERY kid!

And yet today, we find ourselves in a place where bathroom battles are more important than literacy outcomes; Frankfort-imposed processes override local control and medical best practices; pronouns and not achievement gaps are the focus; and, ironically in an atmosphere in which parent rights are often paramount, parents are actually excluded from ensuring that their child gets the supports essential to grow up and thrive.

So, how do you approach an issue as divisive as gender-affirming care of kids? It takes guts.

It took guts for former Representative Jerry Miller to put his heart on the table as he spoke about the well-being of his grandchild.

And it took guts for Senator Dr. Karen Berg to share her son’s journey as a transgender boy.

It took guts from Senator Stephen Meredith to be the only Senate Republican caucus member to vote “NO” today alongside Democratic Senators Denise Harper Angel and Robin Webb.

It WILL take guts for Senators Danny Carroll, Julie Raque Adams, and Whitney Westerfield to continue the discussions on this issue that they raised in the Committee meeting and lead their caucus towards what is right for all children.

The Senate must uphold the right for medical decisions to remain between a family and their doctor.

Stay up-to-date on Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children priorities and other bills that are good for kids on our Kentucky General Assembly Bill Tracker.


About Kentucky Youth Advocates
Kentucky Youth Advocates believes all children deserve to be safe, healthy, and secure. As THE independent voice for Kentucky’s children, we work to ensure policymakers create investments and policies that are good for children. Learn more at