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Oklahoma House staffer email about bathrooms causes uproar

Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-11 06:11:37-04

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- An email from an Oklahoma state House staffer to legislative assistants saying high school pages could use a women's restroom because "cross-dressers" were in the state Capitol was met with criticism Monday.

The email from the page program supervisor came as about 70 LGBTQ students from the Tulsa area were at the Capitol to lobby on behalf of HIV awareness and education funding.

The email cites the House speaker's office as saying a women's restroom reserved for House members and staff could be used by pages.

Republican House Speaker Charles McCall said the email is being investigated.

Cross-dressing is a term considered offensive to transgender people, whose biology at birth does not match their gender identity.

The page program allows high school students to work with House members and staff.

ACLU of Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel released the following statement about McCall's response to the incident:

“We welcome the Speaker's prompt response to this matter. Speaker McCall's statement is reassuring to all Oklahomans but especially all LGBTQ Oklahomans. Given, however, that the email was distributed with language that indicated that it was sent at the direction of the Speaker’s office and Speaker McCall's willingness to allow anti-LBGTQ legislation to advance this session, LGBTQ Oklahomans and their allies are to be forgiven for assuming this email originated from the highest levels of the legislature.

It is not enough to say that LBGTQ Oklahomans are welcome at the Capitol. Of course they are welcome at the Capitol. It is their building as much as it as any other Oklahomans'. To welcome them to the Capitol is little consolation to LGBTQ Oklahomans who, if SB 197 had become law, would have been unwelcome in many other places in Oklahoma. If Speaker McCall wants a truly welcoming state, then he needs to commit that hateful and discriminatory legislation will have no safe harbor in the House of Representatives as long as he is Speaker of the House.”

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