OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A controversial sex education bill cleared another hurdle this week.
Senate Bill 615 requires sex education materials used in school counselor led meetings or classes to be inspected by the student’s parents or legal guardian. This includes topics like sexual orientation and gender identity.
“All this is about is trying to protect the family and tradition,” said the bill’s author, State Representative Danny Williams, R-Seminole. “This is a way to say ‘don’t talk about this stuff with these kids until their parents say you can and if they say you cannot, you cannot.'”
The measure passed out of the State Powers Committee on Wednesday by a 4-1 vote.
“I feel ultimately the responsibility for the upbringing of children belongs to their parents,” said Rep. Williams.
State Representative John Waldron, D-Tulsa cast the single vote against the measure. He argued that SB 615 could potentially “out” students to their families.
“[There could be] cases where there’s a student questioning their sexual identity, or their sexuality and they haven’t told their parents. They might have an abusive parent who’s not supportive,” said Rep. Waldron.
The representative said he has also gotten messages from troubled parents. Cathy Cott, a Cherokee County mother, wrote him a letter saying her and her son who identifies as transgender fear the bill’s repercussions.
“These kids are afraid and panicking about this bill,” said the letter, according to Rep. Waldron. “If this bill is passed, there will be kids dying all over the state, either by their own hand or at the hands of an angry parent or guardian who has been called a school employee outing their child to them.”
The bill now heads to the house floor.