Human Rights Campaign Condemns Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt For Signing Anti-Equality Legislation In Violation Of Federal Civil Rights Law

by Elizabeth Bibi

OKLAHOMA CITY– Today, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Governor Kevin Stitt’s signature of legislation, S.B. 615, a bill copying other efforts - most recently in Alabama - to discriminate against LGBTQ+ youth in schools. Specifically, the bill puts Oklahoma in a small and infamous group of states that have chosen to defy federal civil rights law by forbiding transgender youth to access restrooms consistent with their gender identity. North Carolina and Tennessee both faced swift challenges in the courts for these violations, and Alabama’s recent law is only months old. The legislation also adds penalty provisions for schools that fail to comply (5% decrease in funding from the state) and gives parents a cause of action if they believe the law has been violated.

This bill is a continuation of Oklahoma’s “leadership” in legislative attacks on LGBTQ+ people over the last several years, and comes as data from the Trevor Project shows that 42% of LGBTQ+ youth nationwide seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth. The nation’s leading child health and welfare groups representing more than 7 million youth-serving professionals and more than 1,000 child welfare organizations released an open letter calling for lawmakers in states across the country to oppose dozens of bills that target LGBTQ+ people, and transgender youth in particular.

Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in reaction to today’s vote:

“What states like Oklahoma, Alabama, Tennessee, and North Carolina have done time after time is find new ways to attack these kids for their political gains among radical voters. Governor Stitt has repeatedly disregarded the real harms these bills will impose on Oklahoma’s youth. Transgender youth who cannot use the restroom at school are effectively denied access to their education. Legislation targeting transgender youth in this way is a violation of both federal civil rights law as well as the United States Constitution. Unfortunately, Governor Stitt continues to support and sign bill after discriminatory bill - making Oklahoma among the most anti-LGBTQ states in the country.”

Cathryn Oakley, Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

Already this year, Governor Stitt has signed two pieces of anti-transgender legislation. The first, S.B. 2, prohibits transgender students from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity. It does so despite the fact that banning transgender girls from participating in school sports programs solves nothing and in fact causes great harm. The Governor also signed S.B. 1100, a bill that would prohibit Oklahomans from obtaining non-binary gender markers on official documents. These bills constitute nothing less than an all out attack on LGBTQ+ rights, particularly impacting transgender people, led by Governor Stitt and anti-equality legislators in the state house. This legislation passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives would also be against the views of a majority of Oklahomans as new polling from PRRI shows that 75% of Oklahomans support expanding LGBTQ+ rights including protections from discrimination.

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