TULSA, Okla. (KTUL) — After more than an hour of discussion, Oklahoma state representatives passed HB 2546.
The bill, known as the “don’t say gay or trans” bill would ban classroom instruction of sexual orientation or gender identity by school personnel or third parties.
Rep. Terry O’Donnell, who authored it, said the bill is meant to give parents power.
"We're trying to refocus from teachers back to parents,” he said on the floor Tuesday.
Advocates for the LGBTQ community disagree.
“We're again overstepping on the rights of individual families,” said Dorothy Ballard, the interim executive director of Oklahomans for Equality.
Cindy Nguyen, policy director for the ACLU of Oklahoma, said the bill is a form of censorship.
“This would definitely be an extension of HB 1775 that prevents discussions on race, gender, sexual orientation, as well as gender identity,” she said.
During Tuesday’s discussions, several lawmakers needed clarity.
"Would this prohibit this pastor from talking about creation, Adam and Eve, that sort of thing?" asked Rep. Rick West, a Republican representing Heavener.
"Have you thought about how this will affect young men without fathers in the home?" Democratic Rep. Ellyn Hefner from Oklahoma City asked.
Lawmakers who voted no described the bill as hostile.
"Students and families are leaving because they are afraid to live in a state with legislators like this,” said Rep. Mauree Turner, Oklahoma’s first openly nonbinary elected lawmaker.
O’Donnell responded to Turner during his debate.
“Teachers are leaving, but nobody has explained to me or anyone else how not discussing sexual orientation or gender identity, creates any type of the hostile environment,” he said.