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Tulsa school board member criticized for LGBTQ+ commentary

Posted at 1:28 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 11:29:29-04

TULSA, Okla. — People packed the Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education meeting on Monday night to address the district's relationship with the LGBTQ+ community after a board member's polarizing social media posts.

District 4 Rep. E'Lana Ashley faced criticism from multiple people who signed up for the public comment session in response to Ashley's Facebook posts accusing U.S. schools of teaching lessons on gender diversity and sexual orientation.

TPS board member FB posts
A March 29, 2022 Facebook post from Tulsa Public School Board member E'Lana Ashley criticizing what she said was being taught at K-2 schools in California.
TPS FB post
A May 23, 2022 Facebook post from Tulsa Public School Board member E'Lana Ashley criticizing what she said was being taught at schools in the U.S. in comparison to schools in China and India.

Eleven people signed up a week ago to speak on the topic. Each one was given five minutes, and many speakers raised their voices to ask the board to provide a safer environment for LGBTQ+ students.

“Our district non-discrimination policy says that the districts prohibit discrimination based on things including sexual orientation, gender expression, and this applies to everyone including board members in any aspects of the district's programs or outside of school hours if the conduct affects the education or working environment," said Greg Lawry, one of the speakers.

The public comments were scheduled after Laura Bellis raised concerns about social media posts. Bellis urged the board to consider engaging in training that comes from a place of understanding as they make decisions impacting their students. One speaker encouraged the board to hear directly from the students themselves, and another speaker shared his personal experience and said a safe environment for LGBTQ+ youth students is key to suicide prevention.

Others showed up in support of Ashley, including Oklahoma's Secretary of Education Ryan Walters. Walters posted to Twitter in support of Ashley, calling any required diversity training in response to the posts to be "unacceptable."

Walters is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction along with three other Republican candidates in the June 28 primary election.

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