Legislature Needs Advice on Accepting Diversity, Norman, OKC Lawmakers Maintain

Representative Emily Virgin (D-Norman) says that Oklahoma state legislature could use a sensitivity training course. Official photo.

Oklahoma City  – State House members and staffers apparently need “some kind of training or course on how to make all Oklahomans feel welcome in their state Capitol,” Rep. Emily Virgin said Wednesday.

The Legislature, House and Senate alike, has been rocked by a series of missteps this year, including:

  • one Representative and a Senator who resigned over sex scandals;
  • a state Representative who required Muslims visiting his office to fill out a questionnaire that included the question, “Do you beat your wife?”;
  • and a House staff member who circulated an email Monday advising House personnel that “cross-dressers” would be at the Capitol, at a time when the advocacy group Oklahomans for Equality was at the Capitol with several dozen LGBTQ youths.

“We obviously have a problem with the culture of this building,” said Virgin, D-Norman. “An institution that professes to be Christian has fallen short repeatedly in recent weeks. We all could use some advice in how to embrace diversity and express differences of opinion without being insulting, intentionally or otherwise.”

 “As a youth development professional, not only were this week’s comments unacceptable, but they were disheartening, too,” said Rep. Cyndi Munson.

 “The students who were at the Capitol will remember their visit for the rest of their lives,” the Oklahoma City Democrat said. “My hope is that they will continue to show up to build relationships with their legislators and their staff to remind us all that, in fact, all people are welcome to the State Capitol and have every right to advocate on issues that are important to them.

 “I want every student who came to the Capitol to know three things,” Ms. Munson said: “you are loved, accepted, and you are always welcome to your State Capitol.”

The Gayly – April 12, 2017