An Oklahoma bill limiting access to public-school bathrooms by a person’s birth sex is now law.
School districts and charter schools that don’t comply face a 5% deduction in their state funding. That could subtract thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the school system.
Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 615 into law Wednesday. An emergency provision in the bill caused it to take effect as soon as the governor wrote his signature.
More: Oklahoma attorney general urges lawmakers to pursue legislation on school bathroom access
“Governor Stitt believes girls should use girl restrooms and boys should use boy restrooms,” Stitt’s spokesperson, Carly Atchison, said in a statement Wednesday evening.
All public-school restrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms or shower rooms are now to be designated for exclusive use of the female or male sex. Use of these rooms is restricted to the sex listed on a person’s original birth certificate.
The law requires schools to offer single-occupancy bathrooms and changing rooms for those who don’t want to use the facility that aligns with their birth sex.
Parents and legal guardians would have grounds to sue if their children’s public school fails to comply with the law, the bill states.
The legislation follows months of debate over whether students should be allowed to use the restroom that matches their gender identity, not strictly their sex at birth.
Transgender student accommodations at Stillwater still a focal point in controversy
A protocol in Stillwater Public Schools that allowed bathroom use by gender identity became a focal point of recent rhetoric.
Stillwater schools adopted the practice six years ago. No incidents of misbehavior were reported as a result of the policy, the school district said.
Regardless, GOP lawmakers and state leaders claimed the policy presents a safety threat to girls’ bathrooms.
Stitt’s education secretary, Ryan Walters, has been a leading voice against school restrooms accommodating for gender identity.
Walters, a Republican candidate for state schools superintendent, loudly opposed the protocol in Stillwater, calling it the product of a “woke agenda.”
“Biological males should not receive unrestricted access to women’s restrooms, leaving our young girls uncomfortable and afraid to enter them during school,” Walters wrote in a letter to the school district.