The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature, upcoming bills and the terms to know.

Legislative Digest

This bill proposed by Republican Danny Williams would prohibit public bodies from conducting “gender or sexual diversity training or counseling.” The bill specifies 24 different bodies that this would apply to, including offices, boards and councils that receive public funding. This alone is a disgusting and bigotted attack on an already incredibly vulnerable population in our state.

Even more concerningly, an amendment was recently added to the bill that would require teachers and counselors to notify a student’s parents if they are experiencing “sexual orientation or gender dysphoria,” calling this state a “risk.” This is one of the absolute most dangerous things to force a teacher or counselor to do. Many LBGTQ+ youth are living with parents who are unaccepting of their identities, and outing them can create disastrous consequences.

The danger this bill presents to the children of Oklahoma is immense. Forcing counselors to out students as trans or gay insteading allowing children to do it themselves when they feel safe can lead to forced conversion therapy, homelessness and suicide. It is not an exaggeration to call this bill a direct threat to the lives of LGBTQ+ youth.

Luckily the bill seems to have been stalled. It was not debated at the most recent meeting of the House, and seems unlikely to garner enough support to ever pass. Our Democraitc Representative in the TU area, Monroe Nichols, has already expressed his opposition to the bill and voted to table it. However, the damage that the mere suggestion of the bill has is large. Bipartisan and vocal opposition must be the only response to bills as abhorrent as this one.

This bill would let schools begin programs allowing teachers and other school personnel to carry handguns at school for self defense purposes. The bill considers a handgun license, four hours of training and approval from the police as enough qualification for teachers to carry.

It is absolutely ridiculous to believe that more guns in a school could solve the problem of school shootings. A far better solution is proposed in HB1919 authored by Meloyde Blancett, which advocates for a drastic increase in the number of guidance counselors present in school. A community like a school needs to care for the needs of its people to cure its ills, not increase its capacity for violence.

School shootings are still an incredibly complex issue, and I don’t believe simple gun control laws and counseling service can completely stop mass violence. However, more guns is not the answer, and this bill refuses to consider that we may need to actually nurture and provide for a school to prevent senseless violence.

The bill has already passed through the House on a 79-19 party-line vote. Hopefully there is significantly more resistance in the Senate, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Post Author: Justin Klopfer