by Delphine Luneau •
S.B. 615, Which Passed The Oklahoma State House of Representatives Today, Is the Newest Attack on Transgender Oklahomans Waged This Session
If Passed, Oklahoma Would Join Ranks of Alabama and Tennessee - As Well As North Carolina’s Infamous HB2 - With Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bans Violating Federal Civil Rights Law
Would Also Require Schools To Allow Inspection of Any School Materials Relating To Student Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
OKLAHOMA CITY– Today, The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned the Oklahoma State House of Representatives for passing S.B. 615, a bill copying other efforts - most recently in Alabama - to discriminate against LGBTQ+ youth in schools. Specifically, if passed, this bill would put Oklahoma in a small and infamous group of states that have chosen to defy federal civil rights law by forbidding 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 weeks old. Further, this bill follows in the footsteps of Alabama and Florida, leaders in anti-LGBTQ discrimination in schools, by preventing teachers from providing safe and inclusive classrooms. SB 615 would force schools to allow parents or guardians to inspect, very broadly, materials or instruction of any kind related to sexual orientation and gender identity, even if doing so could out students. The legislation was passed in a violation of the legislative process without any debate or questioning in the House. The bill will be transmitted to the Senate for a vote.
Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in reaction to today’s vote:
“LGBTQ+ youth are just kids - they’re kids who are trying to learn to read, play at recess, get from one class to another before the bell, and to prepare themselves for adulthood. Transgender kids, like all kids, need to be able to use the restroom at school. No amount of other-ing or separation of transgender students from their peers will bring the slightest bit of benefit to anyone - but it will put the schools discriminating against these children squarely in violation of federal civil rights law. Anti-equality legislators in the Oklahoma State House have been relentless in their attacks on LGBTQ+ people, and with bill after bill they prove only that their true purpose is to discriminate against and harm transgender youth. This bill will prevent teachers from providing safe and inclusive classrooms for LGBTQ+ youth and will increase bullying, not reduce it. This bill has no legitimate government purpose – it is justified only by discrimination – and will serve only to do harm against kids who are just trying to be kids.”
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. Earlier this week, the Governor 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.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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