OKLAHOMA CITY (April 23, 2022) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister has requested a formal binding opinion from the state Attorney General in the wake of questions surrounding the restroom policy at Stillwater Public Schools. That district’s school board has asked for clear legal guidance from the State of Oklahoma on whether the district may continue allowing transgender individuals to use the school restroom that corresponds to their gender identity.
On April 18, the Stillwater Board of Education approved a resolution requesting the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) and State Board of Education to take up emergency rules on restroom policy.
Hofmeister said the proper course of action is to get a binding opinion from Attorney General John O’Connor, particularly since Stillwater’s request doesn’t meet the definition of an emergency. Stillwater Public Schools indicate there have been no reports of incidents in the six years that the policy has been in existence.
Other considerations point to the critical need for an Attorney General opinion. Local control is a guiding principle in Oklahoma law, which has long held that school districts make decisions through their duly elected school boards. Moreover, appellate court decisions throughout the country have largely weighed in that the rights of transgender students are ensured by Title IX, although no legal precedent currently exists in Oklahoma’s jurisdiction.
Hofmeister asks that the Attorney General issue a formal written opinion to clarify whether districts may set their own policies for restroom use.
“The answers to these questions will not only provide the crystal-clear guidance sought and will come in the form of a binding opinion on those in Oklahoma who have historically implemented and enforced Title IX and related laws on these matters,” wrote Hofmeister. “Your attention and expeditious review of these matters are sincerely appreciated.”