Charter Schools

Oklahoma Governor Attacks School Choice With Trans Bathroom Panic Law

Charter schools are included in the mandate that students use facilities of their birth sex, regardless of what students and families might want.


The latest attack on school choice comes not from Democrat-supporting union cronies in Chicago and New York, but from the Republican governor of Oklahoma.

On Wednesday, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law S.B. 615. This bill requires all public schools to establish and enforce rules requiring students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their birth sex as indicated on their birth certificates.

It's an anti-trans bathroom panic bill—if you need proof that it's panic-driven, it will take effect immediately because lawmakers used an emergency clause in the text that schools have to comply right now "for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety."

The bill includes public charter schools within its text, and that fundamentally means this an anti-school choice bill, despite Stitt's insistence he supports school choice and legislation that would allow families to choose schools that best serve them and their children's needs. What if a charter school wants to deliberately serve the needs of trans students, the way Magic City Acceptance Academy in Alabama has been set up? Magic City is a public charter school, meaning students across the Birmingham area can attend. They don't actually have to be LGBT, but the point of the school is that it has been designed to accommodate the needs of trans students.

In Oklahoma, at least in terms of these facilities, that's not allowed. It does, fortunately, require schools to set up single-occupancy restrooms and changing rooms for students who don't want to use the bathrooms or locker rooms of their birth sex. So a trans student who visibly presents as a male is not going to be forced to use the girls restroom, though he would be barred from using the bathroom he actually prefers.

If this tiresome chapter of LGBT culture-warring in public schools is going to end, it's not going to be the result of mandates or bans from lawmakers and governors. Instead of peace or solutions, what we get is a constant fight over who controls the education system itself. And only the winners and only the majority get to decide what education everybody in that particular area gets.

School choice is supposed to be an opportunity for families and children with particular needs—and trans students most certainly qualify—to find educators and staff that can provide the right education. This bill subverts and undermines the conservative movement for school choice by controlling what choices parents are allowed to make and eliminating ones that politicians don't approve of.