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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. – Oklahoma Republicans want to prohibit the government from conducting gender or sexual diversity training despite clearly needing it.
This effort is led by Senator David Bullard (R-Durant) and Representative Danny Williams (R-Seminole). Bullard remains known for his recent effort to create a neofascist-style loophole through which Republicans could circumvent the will of the people and steal elections. Williams is new to office and already wasting taxpayer funds on dangerous legislation.
Nicole McAfee, director of policy and advocacy for the ACLU of Oklahoma, issued the following statement in response to the legislation:
“With the potential advancement of HB 1888, the Oklahoma Legislature is considering silencing individuals and imposing an alternate version of American history — one that erases the legacy of discrimination and lived experiences of women and girls and LGBTQ2S+ individuals. All state regulated entities should be actively engaging in the concepts diversity trainings use to educate individuals on the systemic barriers and discrimination marginalized groups still face in this country today across our institutions — from our workplaces and schools to our criminal legal system — not violating First Amendment free speech rights and putting public bodies across Oklahoma in a dangerous position with regard to Title VII compliance.
Last week’s debate on HB 1888 in the Oklahoma House demonstrated the very need for gender and sexual diversity training. We’d recommend the legislature take a look in the mirror rather than taking us steps backwards by prohibiting these learning and growth spaces at the great expense to our state and the people who call Oklahoma home.”
“A reckless attack on young people”
Freedom Oklahoma, a 501c3 non-profit that advocates for lived equality and legal protection for those in the LGBGTQ community, shares many of those same concerns. Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Allie Shinn called HB 1888 an “affront to over half of the people who call Oklahoma home.”
She continued, “Put simply, this measure is an attack on women, girls, and LGBTQ2S+ people, and demonstrates clearly the authors’ lack of respect for the people they represent. HB 1888 has serious implications for federal funding for critical services, for the First Amendment, and for so many Oklahomans, all of whom the Legislature has a duty to serve. Serious times call for serious policy makers. It’s disappointing that Representative Williams is so determined to wield government as a weapon against the women, girls, and LGBTQ2S+ residents of Oklahoma that he is willing to risk critical funding and Title VII compliance to do so.”
Despite criticism from across the state, lawmakers also introduced an amendment to the bill that would require educators to out LGBTQ individuals to their parents. Freedom Oklahoma called it a “reckless attack on young people.”
At time of publish, HB 1888 has yet to be passed by the state House.