Gathering in solidarity file photo

File photo of Oklahomans gathering at Freedom Oklahoma headquarters in Oklahoma City to remember the victims of the deadly shooting Orlando that claimed 50 lives and injured 53 others. 

In the wake of Senator Ralph Shortey being accused of soliciting a "juvenile male" sex-worker, Freedom Oklahoma has been alerted to a case of discrimination and threats toward the transgender community in Oklahoma, threats rooted to a "transgender bathroom bill" proposed last year, a bill Senator Shortey voted to advance.

These stigmatizing bills create fear, bias, and discrimination against the LGBTQ community even when they fail. We find it highly ironic that Senator Shortey voted to advance this legislation out of committee, and less than a year later, he was caught in what appears to be actual predatory behavior toward a vulnerable youth, Freedom Oklahoma said in a press release issued today.

The sign placed next to the restrooms at the "Steak and Catfish Barn" at I-35 and Hefner in OKC  is not only discriminatory, it implies the threat of violence against an individual who is — or is perceived to be - transgender.

There has never been a legitimate recorded incident in Oklahoma of a transgender person harming anyone in a restroom, yet there are numerous accounts of predatory behavior by anti-LGBTQ legislators who have taken bigoted votes akin to the vote Senator Shortey cast last year.

"Freedom Oklahoma commends the Senate for taking swift action in sanctioning Senator Shortey in this matter and will closely follow the investigation when and if charges are filed by the Cleveland County District Attorney," said Freedom Oklahoma executive director, Troy Stevenson. "We hope Senator Shortey's hypocrisy will show Oklahoma Lawmakers the bias caused by ill-conceived and discriminatory legislation, and that they will refrain from passing or proposing laws that put the LGBTQ community in jeopardy."

Another angle being missed in this case is the high incidence of LGBTQ youth who are forced into sex-work because they have been rejected by family and society based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They are also much more likely to be coerced by predatory adults in positions of power. LGBTQ youth are almost twice as likely to be victims of sex-work and human trafficking because of societal bias towards the community.

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