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Oklahoma Department of Education video paints transgender students as threat to school safety | #schoolsaftey


OKLAHOMA CITY — After sharing an inflammatory video opposing teachers unions last month, the Oklahoma State Department of Education put out a new “public service message” on Thursday describing transgender students as a threat in schools.

The message continues state schools Superintendent Ryan Walters’ ongoing opposition to the presence of transgender students in school bathrooms and to classroom discussions of gender-nonconforming identities. Members of Oklahoma’s LGBTQ+ community have said this rhetoric is harmful to transgender youths who are already vulnerable.

The Education Department did not respond to questions about how much money and employee hours it spent to produce the video, nor has it explained the resources used to create the first public service message.

Last month’s five-minute video portrayed teachers unions as a malevolent force in education. Teachers walked out in disgust as it played at an Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting. Some said it shared a message that could make educators a target of violence.

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Thursday’s video posed the question “What is reality?” as Walters cast doubt on any gender identity other than the sex a person was born with. To suggest a person could identify otherwise, Walters said, is “dangerous” and an “attack on truth.”

“It puts our girls in jeopardy and endangers their safety,” he said.

The video focuses on an October fight in a girls’ bathroom at Edmond Memorial High School. A 15-year-old girl, whose mother is now suing the school district, said a 17-year-old transgender student punched and kicked her several times.

The transgender student identifies as a girl and enrolled as such, Edmond Superintendent Angela Mills Grunewald said. The student had been attending Edmond Memorial for only a few days before the fight and left the school shortly after, the superintendent said.

Walters was a leading voice against school policies allowing use of bathrooms that match a person’s gender identity, rather than their birth sex.

Oklahoma enacted a law last year requiring all individuals in school buildings to use the restroom that aligns with the biological sex written on their birth certificate or use a single-occupancy bathroom.

Three transgender students have sued in hopes of overturning the law.

“Trans students are just students trying to go to school,” one of the students, Andrew Bridge, previously told The Oklahoman. “We’re not trying to hurt anybody. The state has decided to go after not just trans people but trans kids. That’s just messed up.”

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