As a group of LGBT+ students paid a visit to the Oklahoma capitol, one staff member thought it appropriate to send a warning email to all.
The staff member sent from a House staffer warned that the LGBT+ group of students, there to lobby for HIV awareness, would be using various bathrooms in the buildings.
The email sent from an account with a signature from page supervisor Karen Kipgen, read: “There are cross-dressers in the building”.
In full, it reads: “As per the Speaker’s office, Pages are being allowed access to the ladies restroom across from 401, for today. Again, there are cross-dressers in the building.”
But the House Speaker, Charles McCall, moved quickly to distance his office fro the email.
A spokesman for McCall told Tulsa World in a statement: “The email was not authorised 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.”
The email is being investigated, according to the office of the Speaker.
One student, Pickles Lee, 18, said: “Never have I felt so unsupported… This email sort of escalated everything.”
Another, Ella Gambino, told Tulsa World: “We came down to the Capitol to talk about laws… To be referred to as cross-dressers is something you say as an insult.”
The organisation that sponsored the trip, Oklahomans for Equality, said the visit had been relatively uneventful until the email was sent.
Director Tony Jenkins said the students were made to use private staff and member restrooms after the email was sent.