State lawmakers involved in debate over bathrooms and gender in Stillwater

STILLWATER, Okla. — State lawmakers are involved in a heated debate over who should be allowed to use which school bathrooms in Stillwater.

Students at Stillwater Public Schools have been able to use whatever bathroom aligns with the gender they identify as since 2015. Recently, there’s been board meetings and the Oklahoma Department of Education has looked into this policy.

The debate has even reached state lawmakers, and Attorney General John O’Connor. He says, “I was in Stillwater, Oklahoma for an evening event, and I was approached by some parents. And they were concerned for the privacy and safety of their children. I didn’t know at the time about the policy in Stillwater Public Schools… Middle School daughters that were not going to the bathroom because they felt unsafe, they felt maybe intimidated by the fact there might be a male in the bathroom.”

Right now, there’s a bill at the capitol, which would require all students to use the bathroom that aligns with their biological sex assigned at birth. If schools don’t comply, they would lose five percent of their funding.

Alex Wade with Tulsa’s Equality Center, says he’s heard of these “bathroom bills” before. He says, “Politicians are continuing to make it an issue and promote fear-mongering, and this idea that transgender people are trying to hurt people and that they’re the boogie-man in this world and that’s just not the case. People are just trying to go to the restroom. "

He adds, “This current bill would be segregating transgender students to separate bathrooms, rather than allowing them to use the restroom that aligns with their identity. It’s incredibly “othering.” It’s suggesting that you cannot go to the places that every other student can go too.”

The bill has not passed the state house or state senate.