OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma lawmakers have sent a controversial sex education bill with an amendment to regulate school bathrooms to the Governor’s desk for final approval.
Senate Bill 615 would require 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 amendment filed by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, would require schools to enforce a ‘biological sex’ bathroom policy.
This follows 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’s had since 2015 that allows transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.
Today, Oklahoma lawmakers approved the new amendment and sent SB 615 off to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his signature.
The Trevor Project says this 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.
On Thursday morning, the bill and its amendment passed the Senate 38-7. By Thursday afternoon, it had passed the House 69-17.
“SB615 is an unnecessary hindrance to education and thriving of all our students,” said Sen. Julia Kirt on Twitter. “It forces schools to adopt restrictive policies that police transgender students and open schools and families to lawsuits brought simply on the basis of suspicion, misunderstanding or fear.”
SB615 would go into effect upon Gov. Stitt’s signature.
If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678.