After Nex Benedict’s Loss of life, Oklahoma Colleges Chief Defends Strict Gender Insurance policies

However for years, Mr. Walters, 38, has been an unapologetic lightning rod in Oklahoma, mounting direct verbal assaults on faculty districts, academics’ unions and sometimes particular person academics whom he has accused of selling “pornography” or “radical gender concept” in public faculties. He was appointed to the place of state superintendent by Gov. Kevin Stitt in 2020 after which gained election to a brand new time period in 2022.

He has pressured educators in a number of districts to resign, together with a trainer who mounted a protest over the banning of sure books, and an elementary faculty principal who carried out in drag outdoors of faculty.

Such an aggressively partisan strategy shocked a few of Mr. Walters’s former college students, a lot of whom admired him as an approachable trainer who valued debate. “Walters would exit of his strategy to be apolitical,” stated Shane Hood, who took at the very least three historical past courses with Mr. Walters at McAlester Excessive Faculty. As a trainer, Mr. Hood stated, he gave little indication of his political beliefs, aside from displaying giant cutouts of Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan.

“He was in all probability a schoolwide favourite,” stated Mr. Hood, 22, including that Mr. Walters’s present political persona didn’t match with the trainer he knew.

Mr. Walters’s public fights have come as conservative states across the nation have handed legal guidelines proscribing the rights of transgender individuals. In Oklahoma, lawmakers have banned gender-transition take care of minors and explicitly prohibited the usage of gender impartial markers on beginning certificates.

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