Email From State House Staffer Calls LGBTQ Visitors 'Cross-Dressers'

Monday, April 10th 2017, 11:01 pm
By: News On 6

Members of the Tulsa LGBTQ community are demanding an apology from the state Capitol.

They’re upset about an email that was sent claiming to be from the Speaker's Office, informing employees that multiple bathrooms were open to staff members because, "cross-dressers," would be in the building.

"My mouth dropped. My jaw dropped and I was like, ‘This, this, this cannot be, this cannot be appropriate,’" said Equality Center Program Director Jose Vega.

Monday, more than 70 students took their annual trip to the state Capitol, led by Oklahomans for Equality staff members.

"We teach them how to lobby, we teach them to go find their representatives, their senators," Vega said.

But their trip turned into a state-wide controversy.

Vega said the group toured the Capitol all morning, and when they sat down for lunch they saw the email sent by a House staff member to legislative assistants.

"As per the Speaker's Office, Pages are being allowed to access the ladies restroom across from 401, for today. Again, there are cross-dressers in the building."

Vega said, "After that mass email went out and everybody started feeling heartbroken and rejected, they did not feel comfortable going to the restroom anymore."

Vega said the students went back to the offices of their senators and representatives to voice their concerns.

Hours later, Speaker Charles McCall released a statement.

“The email was not authorized by me, my staff or my office. It was sent unilaterally by a House staff member without any input or permission. I was unaware that such an email was being sent, and the remarks contained in the email are not condoned by me or the Office of the Speaker. As Speaker, all Oklahomans should feel welcome in the Oklahoma Capitol building. We are looking into this matter, and it will be taken seriously.”

But parent Olivia Cotter, who traveled to the Capitol with her transgender son, said the statement isn't enough.

"It's heartbreaking, and it’s no wonder that there is bullying in our schools when our legislatures act like this," she said.

Vega said the community will continue to spread love and advocate for LGBTQ rights in Oklahoma.

"Let this be awareness that homophobia and transphobia is well and alive at the state Capitol," he said.