Oklahoma Superintendent Ryan Walters Vows to Reject U.S. Department of Education’s Updated Title IX Guidelines, Risking Critical Federal Funding for Oklahoma Schools

by HRC Staff

In a desperate attempt to maintain his MAGA theatrics, Oklahoma’s embattled Superintendent of Public Instruction demands school districts violate the safety and civil rights of students enshrined in updated Title IX guidelines.

Oklahoma schools receive more than $800 million from the federal government each year

WASHINGTON - In a letter circulated today, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters ordered that school district leaders across the state refuse to comply with the U.S. Department of Education's updated Title IX rule finalized last week. The rule clarifies the scope of nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ+ students while also empowering sexual assault survivors, a move imperative to the enhanced safety and protection of queer and transgender students.

Refusing to comply with Title IX could put federal funding for Oklahoma school districts at risk. In the 2021-2022 school year, Oklahoma received more than $800 million in school funding from the federal government–or about 10% of its total revenue. According to the Oklahoma State Report card, an average of $1,850.68 is spent per pupil in Oklahoma from federal funds, which makes up 17.5% of the total $10,574.08 per-pupil expenditure.

Yet again, Ryan Walters is choosing theatrics and extremism over protecting and furthering the needs of the students and schools he was elected to serve. Refusing to comply with Title IX could have damaging consequences for Oklahoma schools, including significant loss in funding on the order of hundreds of millions of dollars in a state that currently ranks 49th in academic achievement. It is clear that his only priority is himself and his own political profile–not Oklahoma students.

Cathryn Oakley, Senior Director of Legal Policy

Ryan Walters has come under fire previously for his misuse of federal grant money. Last year, the former head director of grant writing estimated that up to $40 million of federal grant money had not been spent, and the state could be on the hook to repay it. A former OSDE employee came forward earlier this month and said Walter’s incompetent leadership cost Oklahoma schools at least several million dollars.

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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