Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin harshly criticized teachers for taking part in protests across the state Friday, saying they left “hundreds of thousands” of children vulnerable to sexual assault and drugs. Thousands of teachers descended on the capitol to call on lawmakers to override a veto of a measure that would have boosted funding for schools. Lawmakers did just that and Bevin was none too happy so it seems he decided to lay some blame on teachers for what could have happened when school districts across the state canceled classes to support the demonstration.
“I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin told reporters. “I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were left alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them. I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.” He also dismissed the importance of the protest, saying teachers were hanging out with their shoes off, smoking, and “leaving trash around.”
Bevin made it clear that he thought the teachers striking meant that children suffered. “Children were harmed—some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time—because they were vulnerable and left alone,” he added.
Bevin’s statements were swiftly condemned by both educators and lawmakers. “The disgusting comments by Gov. Bevin insinuating that a peaceful protest by teachers would lead to sexual assault are reprehensible,” Republican state Sen. Max Wise wrote on Twitter. “I don’t agree with these comments & I find them repulsive.” For her part, Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler was left pretty speechless by the remark. “There is no rational comment I could make to that,” Winkler said.