Approximately 70 LGBT students and youth visited the Oklahoma state capitol on Monday to lobby for HIV funding. Sounds innocuous enough, but a House staffer in charge of the page program was so frightened by their visit that she sent an email warning those under her and telling them to use separate bathroom facilities.
"As per the Speaker's office, Pages are being allowed access to the ladies restroom across from 401, for today," page supervisor Karen Kipgen wrote in a mass email. "Again, there are cross-dressers in the building."
Many of the Tulsa-area students got wind of Kipgen's email and were visibly upset.
"Never have I felt so unsupported," Pickles Lee, a senior at Owasso High School, told Tulsa World. "This email sort of escalated everything."
House Speaker Charles McCall, a Republican, disavowed Kipgen's missive and said he was looking into the matter.
“The email was not authorized by me, my staff or my office," McCall said in a statement. "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.”