Jonathan Small | April 27, 2022
Hofmeister ducking bathroom issue; Legislature should act
Contact: OCPA President Jonathan Small
OKLAHOMA CITY (April 27, 2022)— Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister’s effort to prevent action on school-bathroom policies is an enormous failure of leadership and that state lawmakers should step up and pass a law to address the issue.
“Based on the actions of the Stillwater School Board and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, one thing has become clear: Neither one wants to accept ownership of any policy allowing boys to use the girls’ bathrooms at public schools,” Small said. “Yet, at the same time, neither the Stillwater board nor Hofmeister is willing to roll back this ridiculous policy.”
The Stillwater Board of Education has come under fire from parents and concerned citizens for its policy allowing boys to use the girls’ bathrooms if a male claims to identify as a female at the time. The Stillwater board has repeatedly cited guidance from the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE), which Hofmeister leads, in defending its policy.
The Stillwater board recently passed a resolution saying it would not reverse course unless given “no choice” by state officials. The resolution urged OSDE and the State Board of Education to effectively strip districts of local control on the issue and instead “promulgate an emergency rule that provides clear directives to all Oklahoma public school districts concerning the use of student restrooms.”
So far, Hofmeister has refused to do so. Instead, she has asked for a formal opinion from the office of the attorney general. In her request to Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor, Hofmeister posed several questions, including, “What, if any, law requires local educational agencies to prohibit students from using the restroom facilities that align with their gender identity?”
She also suggested the recent passage of Senate Bill 2, which bans boys from competing in girls sporting events in Oklahoma, shows that state lawmakers nonetheless intended to allow boys to access girls’ bathrooms at public schools based on self-proclaimed gender identity.
“Does the mention of athletic teams but exclusion of other programs or areas of school district operations demonstrate legislative intent to not prohibit students from using the restroom facilities that align with their gender identity?” Hofmeister asked.
Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor has already sent a letter to the Stillwater district that plainly stated, “No legal precedent currently requires Oklahoma schools to open women’s restrooms and locker rooms to biological males, or vice versa …”
Small said Hofmeister’s refusal to bring emergency rules before the State Board of Education is a needless stall tactic and her request for a formal opinion from the attorney general is a waste of taxpayer resources.
“It is undisputed that Superintendent Hofmeister can schedule a vote on emergency rules that provide statewide clarity and limit boys to boys’ bathrooms in Oklahoma schools,” Small said. “If Superintendent Hofmeister thinks men and boys should be allowed in the same bathroom as young girls, she should just say so, and stop playing games with children’s lives. And while she’s making up her mind, the Legislature should pass a law that makes this issue crystal clear for schools. ”
OCPA has launched a petition where Oklahoma parents can express their support for addressing the school-bathroom issue to limit access based on biology, not self-identified “gender identity.”
That petition can be found at https://www.okwomen.org.
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a free-market think tank that works to advance principles and policies that support free enterprise, limited government, individual initiative and personal responsibility.
Jonathan Small, C.P.A., serves as President and joined the staff in December of 2010. Previously, Jonathan served as a budget analyst for the Oklahoma Office of State Finance, as a fiscal policy analyst and research analyst for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and as director of government affairs for the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Small’s work includes co-authoring “Economics 101” with Dr. Arthur Laffer and Dr. Wayne Winegarden, and his policy expertise has been referenced by The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, National Review, the L.A. Times, The Hill, the Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post. His weekly column “Free Market Friday” is published by the Journal Record and syndicated in 27 markets. A recipient of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s prestigious Private Sector Member of the Year award, Small is nationally recognized for his work to promote free markets, limited government and innovative public policy reforms. Jonathan holds a B.A. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma and is a Certified Public Accountant.