Oklahoma lawmakers attack gay teachers and parents

WASHINGTON, DC -- If some lawmakers in Oklahoma have it their way, "homosexuals or lesbians" would not be allowed to adopt or be allowed to work in a school. These attacks are part of two separate bills currently alive in the Oklahoma state legislature. "Pass or fail, these attacks do damage," stated Rebecca Isaacs, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force political director. "The effect on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender parents, teachers, school workers and their families is beyond measure," added Isaacs.

The measure attacking "homosexual and lesbian" school teachers and all other school employees(SB 1394) is an amendment attached to a bill intended to ban sex offenders from school-related jobs. The obvious intent is to imply a connection between gays and sex offenders.

In 1978 , the National Gay Task Force (now the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force) brought suit against a similar measure in Oklahoma that became state law that year. It banned teachers from discussing same-sex sexual conduct. The case ultimately made it to the U.S. Supreme Court where in 1985 a portion of it was struck down on first amendment grounds.

The measure banning a "homosexual" or "lesbian" from adopting (SB 1261) is an amendment to a bill intended to ban sex offenders from adopting children. Both of these amendments were added during deliberation on the House floor.

While community leaders are hopeful that the leadership in both houses will not allow such scapegoating bills to become law, they are encouraging all Oklahomans to contact Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor (405-521-5555) and House Speaker Loyd Benson (405-557-7100) and urge them to ensure the removal of these amendments in conference committee. For more information on these measures, contact Keith Smith of the ACLU in Oklahoma at 405-850-2219 and long time community activist Tom Neal at 918-583-5601.

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