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  • Henry Broadbent

US Senator Tom Woods on the LGBTQ+ Community: “We are a religious state, and we are going to fight it to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma.”

CW: Transphobia, Queerphobia, Violence


In 2022 Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt enacted a law requiring public school students to use bathrooms matching their assigned gender at birth, and a bill banning nonbinary gender makers on birth certificates. That same year, Oklahoma State School Superintendent Ryan Walters relentlessly legislated against ‘gender ideology’ in classrooms and frequently attacked schools that support LGBTQ+ students. Both of these men have campaigned vocally against transgender rights, and turned schools across the state into hostile, unsafe environments.

Last month, 16-year old Nex Benedict, a nonbinary student at Owasso High School in Oklahoma, was attacked by three other students in a bathroom. Despite Benedict passing out, the school decided an ambulance was unnecessary. Benedict later collapsed at home and was taken to hospital. The following day, they were dead. 

At the beginning of last week a public forum was held in Tahlequah, Okla. A woman asked the panel about the state's ongoing anti-queer legislation, and mentioned Benedict. Oklahoma State Senator Tom Woods responded he “represent[s] a constituency that doesn’t want that filth in Oklahoma”. 

The only thing shocking about this statement is how blunt and dehumanising it is. There is nothing new about its intent. As our own government wades into this debate, do not lose sight of the stakes. Politicians around the US and the world are emboldened by this rhetoric, and horrifyingly callous about its effects. 


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