Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt has signed into law a measure that requires students in public schools to use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex as opposed to their gender identity.
Stitt signed Senate Bill 615 Wednesday, which requires "each public school and public charter school that serves students in prekindergarten through twelfth grades in this state" to "require every multiple occupancy restroom or changing area designated" either "for the exclusive use of the male sex" or "for the exclusive use of the female sex."
The bill defines "sex" as "the condition of being male or female based on genetics and physiology, as identified on the individual's original birth certificate."
The measure contains a provision requiring schools to "provide a reasonable accommodation to any individual who does not wish to comply" with the requirement that students use bathrooms and changing areas designated for their biological sex.
It cites "access to a single-occupancy restroom or changing room" as the reasonable accommodation schools can offer. In other words, trans-identified students who do not want to use bathrooms that match their biological sex can use single-occupancy restrooms.
A school district's failure to comply with the law will result in a 5% decrease in state funding "for the fiscal year following the year of noncompliance." The bill took effect immediately following its approval.
The bill was nearly unanimously opposed by Democrats, with one Democrat voting in favor in the Senate and no Democrats supporting it in the House.
Tanya Cox-Toure, the executive director of the ACLU of Oklahoma, condemned the legislation in a statement.
"Transgender people are part of our families, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods, and they, like everyone else, need to be able to safely access restrooms," she said.
"By singling out transgender students for discrimination and excluding them from restrooms that match their gender identity, SB 615 discriminates based on transgender status and sex in violation of the United States Constitution and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act," Cox-Toure added. "These violations put Oklahoma at risk of losing hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, and harms transgender youth, all to solve a problem that plainly does not exist."
The activist insisted that transgender individuals "go to the restroom just like everyone else, and their presence harms no one."
"SB 615 has and will continue to cause severe harms to transgender students who are just trying to live their lives and go to school alongside their peers," Cox-Toure stressed.
Policies allowing trans-identified students to use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity have received increased scrutiny across the U.S.
The proposed implementation of such a policy led to massive protests in Loudoun County, Virginia, where school district leadership assured concerned parents that no sexual assaults had taken place in girls' bathrooms at the hands of male students.
However, three weeks before the contentious Loudoun County school board meeting, a sexual assault did occur in a girls' bathroom at one of the high schools in Loudoun County, committed against a girl by a boy reportedly wearing a skirt. The two students had a previous history of romantic involvement.
Emails released by the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office showed that district leadership was aware of the sexual assault on the day that it occurred, leading to a conclusion by outraged parents that Superintendent Scott Ziegler misled parents at the June 2021 school board meeting.
Critics of the Loudoun County Public Schools claim that the district deliberately concealed the sexual assault in an effort to avoid the derailment of a proposed policy that would allow trans-identified students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity.
Concerns about biological males using areas where women are partially or completely undressed extend beyond public schools.
Last year, a video of a woman confronting employees at a Korean spa in Los Angeles for allowing a trans-identified male with his genitals exposed to enter an area where females, including little girls, were naked went viral. When employees defended letting the man use women's facilities based on his self-identified "sexual orientation," the woman responded "What sexual orientation? I see a d***!"
Besides Oklahoma, other states that have passed laws requiring students to use bathrooms that correspond with their biological sex include Tennessee and North Carolina. The North Carolina law was derided as a "bathroom bill" by critics, and backlash led to the bill's repeal in 2017.