The Oklahoma State Legislature is taking aim this session at the most serious issue plaguing the state: AP U.S. history, which is too "negative" and "leftist." They've been so busy with that, though, that it looks they're not going to get around to passing a couple other laws—ones that would have protected LGBT employees and required sexual assault education in schools.
Oklahoma has come in for a good deal of mockery this past week over House Bill 1380, sponsored by Rep. Dan Fisher, which would have cut state funds for AP U.S. history because—as he said in a hearing on the bill—it emphasizes "what is bad about America." The replacement curriculum Fisher proposed involved students reading "foundational texts," including, among other things, speeches by Ronald Reagan and several sermons. According to Fisher's bill summary, the curriculum change is projected to cost the state $3,851,500.
After the naked stupidity of the bill caused a bit of a blacklash, Fisher said he'll "pull back" the bill and re-write it, telling the Oklahoman, "It was very poorly worded and was incredibly ambiguous, and we didn't realize that, so it's been misinterpreted. We're going to clear it up so folks will know exactly what we're trying to accomplish and it's not to hurt AP. We're very supportive of the AP program."
Great. Second time's the charm, for sure. In the meantime, Yes All Daughters (YAD), the anti-rape group born out of a feminist knitting circle in Norman Oklahoma, was hoping that their esteemed legislators might have time to take a look at House Bill 1362, which would require each school district's School Safety Committee to develop "a rape or sexual assault response program for students and school staff."
The necessity for sexual assault education in Oklahoma school became clear to YAD after three teenage rape victims were bullied out of Norman High School last fall. The group led protests outside the school and managed to persuade the district to create a sexual assault task force to study the problem. (The alleged rapist, Tristen Killman-Hardin, remains in custody. The three girls are all finally back in school, although it has been a months-long process.)
But now there's a new, equally horrible set of rape allegations in the town next to Norman: three seniors at Westmoore High School, all 18 or 19 years old, have been arrested on charges of having sex with a girl who is younger than 16. A fourth suspect, Johnathan Henderson, 18,
is still being sought turned himself in on Friday, February 20.
The girl reportedly told police that she was making out with Henderson at a house when John Delmoral, 18, Terrel Skinner, 18 and Boston Williams, 19, came into the room.
According to the Oklahoman, the girl had sex with all four boys, and said "she was not forced and did not tell them to stop." But according to a police report, she also told her mother "that she knew she was in a bad situation and didn't know how to get out of it."
On social media, the sentiment among high school students in the area is, roughly, that the girl was asking for it.
(There are many more, but you get the idea.)
The legislature's education committee will be reading the sexual assault education bill tomorrow afternoon, but there's no guarantee that it'll make it out of committee and onto the House floor for a vote. If it dies in committee, the bill can't be reintroduced until the next session in two years. YAD has been circulating a petition trying to persuade their legislators to hear the bill.
"I will be utterly heartbroken if this bill dies in committee," Stacey Wright, part of the leadersip of YAD, tells Jezebel. "This is extraordinarily personal to me as I've gotten to know our girls and their families. We have an opportunity to do something significant for the health and safety of Oklahoma kids by addressing these horrific, all too common issues. Expanding the School Safety Committee responsibilities would be a step in the right direction for ending sexual violence."
In addition to their other great work this year, Oklahoma legislators have also opted not to hear a bill that would grant workplace protections to LGBT people. Priorities.
Danielle Brown, an activist with Yes All Daughters holds an anti-rape sign she made for a November protest. Image via Yes All Daughters/Facebook