OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A controversial sex education bill that has an amendment to regulate school bathrooms is now Oklahoma law.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 615 into law on Wednesday.
The new law, which went into effect upon Stitt’s signature, 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,” the bill’s author, State Rep. Danny Williams, R-Seminole, previously said to KFOR. “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.’”
Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, filed an amendment to the bill requiring schools to enforce a ‘biological sex’ bathroom policy.
West’s amendment followed questions surrounding the State’s guidance on bathroom policies after Stillwater Public Schools received letters from the Secretary of Education and Attorney General telling the district to end a policy it has had since 2015 that allows transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
The bill was sent to the governor for final approval last week.
The Trevor Project, an agency that advocates for LGBTQ young people, issued the following statement last week, saying the bill is dangerous for young students.
“Oklahoma lawmakers’ efforts to police students’ bathroom usage is government overreach at its worst. Denying transgender students the ability to use the restroom that matches their gender identity will cause unnecessary distress for our youth, and unnecessary bureaucracy for our schools,” said Sam Ames, Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs at The Trevor Project. “Transgender students already experience disproportionate rates of mental health challenges due to increased experiences of discrimination and victimization, and this legislative bullying will add insult to injury. We urge Governor Stitt to consider the overwhelming evidence in favor of affirming trans students and to veto this bill.”
The Trevor Project says a 2020 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that transgender and nonbinary youth who experienced bathroom discrimination had more than 1.5-times the odds of attempting suicide in the past year compared to those who did not experience bathroom discrimination.