On Wednesday, May 25th, Oklahoma Governor Republican Kevin Stitt signed into a law a bill requiring transgender students to use restrooms and changing facilities associated with the sex on their birth certificates. The law applies to all kindergarten through 12th grade students in public and public charter schools throughout the state.
The law states that schools must make single-occupancy facilities available to students who do not wish to use the multiple-occupancy facilities designated for their assigned sex on their birth certificates. The law also requires schools to adopt disciplinary procedures to punish students who do not comply and allows parents and guardians to take legal action against any school that does not comply with the new law, which takes effect immediately.
The governor, who is up for re-election this year, has signed two other trans-discriminatory bills into law this year alone — one banning transgender female students from participating in girls' sports and one that bans the use of nonbinary gender on birth certificates.
LGBTQ+ advocates are rightfully concerned that laws like the Oklahoma bathroom bill will ostracize and further harm a group of kids who are already at high risk for mental and emotional issues, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts due to the bullying, hostility, and discrimination they are subject to.
The law is likely a violation of federal civil rights. "By singling out transgender students for discrimination and excluding them from restrooms that match their gender identity, SB 615 discriminates based on transgender status and sex in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act," Tamya Cox-Touré, Executive Director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, said in a statement on Wednesday.
"These violations put Oklahoma at risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding and harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that plainly does not exist," Cox-Touré said.
Oklahoma’s discriminatory legislation is just a fragment of the anti-LGBTQ+, and specifically, anti-trans bills argued in states nationwide this year. More than 300 anti-LGBTQ+ bills, at least 100 of which specifically target the rights of transgender people, have been initiated since the start of the 2022 legislative season.
Currently, North Carolina lawmakers are seeking to adopt their own version of Florida’s controversial “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which made headlines earlier this year. The “Parent’s Bill of Rights” in North Carolina would ban all LGBTQ+ content in grades K-3 and would require public schools to disclose to parents or guardians any and all information regarding a student’s education, health, and “well being,” including a student's request to use different pronouns, effectively outing kids as transgender without their consent.