The Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget voted Friday in favor of legislation aimed at protecting students and schools from federal overreach as the result of the president’s public school restroom directive regarding transgendered students. President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman is the principal Senate author. The bill passed 20 to 15.
“The Senate believes in local control of schools because parents and teachers are best equipped to make decisions on what’s best for students. Senate Bill 1619 doesn’t provide instruction on whether schools should follow the recent edict of the federal government. This bill isn’t a commentary on transgender students. Senate Republicans want schools to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students. This measure is about doing what’s best for all students in Oklahoma schools by ensuring schools that make the decision to accommodate
transgender students regarding showers and locker room facilities also accommodate students who would object to those arrangements because of their deeply held religious beliefs,” Bingman said.
SB 1619 defines a person’s sex as “the physical condition of being male or female, as identified at birth by that individual’s anatomy.” The bill states that if a school district allows a member of the opposite sex to use a bathroom and athletic facilities for the opposite sex, it must provide for a religious accommodation for students or their parents who object to the policy. The accommodation will apply to restrooms, changing facilities, or showers. Providing access to a single-occupancy restroom, shower, or changing facility will not be an allowable accommodation.
The bill also allows the Attorney General to represent school districts or employees in legal challenges to any federal regulation or mandate that requires a district to implement a policy allowing members of the opposite sex to use a bathroom of the opposite sex.
“Oklahoma families are expressing their great concern to us with the Obama administration’s latest act of executive overreach. Through a ‘guidance’ letter to schools, the administration is trying to do something that can only be done via a law passed by Congress. The U.S. Constitution grants no power or authority to the executive branch of the federal government over the public school system in Oklahoma. The ‘guidance’ letter sent to public schools is an attempt by the administration to subvert the system of checks and balances in order to serve the president’s political agenda,” Bingman said.