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Oklahoma State Senate bill calls for "anthropomorphic behavior" to allow parents to pull kids from public schools

Edited as of Thu 26 Jan 2023 - 21:24
Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (5 votes)

The first session of the Oklahoma State Senate has put forth a bill penned by State Senator Shane Jett that focuses on education in the state’s public school system and the allowing of endowments for a parent to pull their kids from public schools.

The 20 page document caught attention on social media by furries due to a highlighting of the law’s claim of a district that could be deemed as problematic because of furry activities.

“Trigger district” means a school district in this state where any of the following concepts or activities have been advocated or tolerated:
[...]
g. the presence of any school employee or volunteer engaged in anthropomorphic behavior commonly referred to as furries,

There are 12 other items that also would qualify a school as a proclaimed trigger district. Some of the ones not covered in previous statute include things such as: promotion of Marxist ideology, disparaging the 2nd amendment, promoting animal rights activism, promoting social and emotional learning, climate change ideology that disparages the oil, gas, and farming industry, and instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation that creates 'gender confusion'.

When a school is deemed as a trigger district, it allows the parent to pull their child from the school to fund their education in a private manner through a program outlined in the law known as “Oklahoma Parent Empowerment Act for Kids [OK PEAK]”

A law that inadvertently marks all schools as problematic

Where this law, and particularly its section about furry activity, falls short is that the lawmaker in question utilized words that are used to define furries in some cases, but shows a lack of reading comprehension of what the words actually mean within that definition.

How furries are defined is as follows by Wikipedia:

The furry fandom is a subculture interested in anthropomorphic animal characters.

The major point here is that furries are fans of animal characters that are given human characteristics. To apply a human characteristic to something is called anthropomorphization. The word anthropomorphic is independent of being a furry fan. In other words, anthropomorphic and furry are not truly synonymous. Furry characters (or animal characters that talk, walk, or show cognitive function on par with humans) are anthropomorphic, but not all anthropomorphic characters are furry. Pixar’s Cars is a film that anthropomorphizes car characters, as an example.

Therefore when this proposed law puts down the phrase “anthropomorphic behavior” instead of simply putting it as “furry behavior” we can insinuate two things: The lawmaker doesn’t know what the word anthropomorphic means and just utilized it because it seemed like a professional word to use to make them appear smart and well-read when in actuality it highlights a lack of knowledge in its proper usage, and that the lawmaker needs to ensure that any laws he writes in the future are copyedited properly by staff in order to ensure that they don’t implement anything that can cause undue harm in ways he did not intend.

Because in this case, to label a school as problematic for having staff who “behave in an anthropomorphic manner”, would be that same as stating that problematic staff are those who “behave in a human-like manner”. This would in essence mean that this law would find all public school staff as problematic actors, and thus all school districts would be trigger districts. Assuming, of course, all the teachers in the school are homo-sapiens and behave humanly. The schools of fishes in the ponds of Oklahoma should probably be safe as long as they don’t speak human languages.

One can hypothesize that it was the opposite behavior that the lawmaker was concerned over. That instead he would want to restrict human children and school staff from behaving in an animalistic way. In this case the word that should have been applied here should have instead have been “zoomorphic”. Zoomorphism is a dehumanization of something that is human. Something that some others who are highlighted in this bill as "triggering elements" would deem is something that governments engage in on a regular basis.

Therefore point g. should be rewritten to be:

g. the presence of any school employee or volunteer engaged in the encouragement of zoomorphic behavior, or to behave as an animal or pet.

Furry should be dropped as it makes the definition a bit too fuzzy, pun intended.

I must note however, that the entire concept of Trigger District creates needless complexity to the intent of this bill and could probably be removed entirely. In the next section we will go over why this is.

”Trigger Districts” are basically 97% pointless

Looking deeper into what a trigger district actually is, it is only referenced in one section of the proposed bill. There are two situations when a parent can pull their kid from the public school and take the endowment from the state to fund education from outside the public institutions. These two situations a student becomes eligible can be found on the bottom of page 3.

One states that if the parent is of a rural county (<10,000 population), then to withdraw their child they must find, with the help of a state reporting agency, something in the district triggering as defined in the infamous section. Parents who live in the more populous counties (>10,000) can just pull their kid and take the endowment for no reason whatsoever.

5. “Eligible student” means:
a. a resident of this state who lives in a county with a
population of more than ten thousand (10,000) or whose
parent works in a county with a population of more
than ten thousand (10,000) according to the latest
Federal Decennial Census, and who is eligible to
enroll in a public school in this state, or

b. a resident of this state who lives in a county with a
population of less than ten thousand (10,000)
according to the latest Federal Decennial Census and
who is eligible to enroll in a public school in this
state that has been determined by a reporting agency
to be a trigger district;

So all the triggers to define a trigger district are put in for rural counties, and not for more urbanized ones. According to the county population census for the state, this means that only 20 of the 77 counties (25%) in the state would need to rely on these “trigger districts” to allow parents to withdraw kids from the public school system.

Even worse, the population of those 25% of the counties comprise approximately 3% of the population of the state. Meaning this large Trigger District section does not apply to 97% of state residents.

This begs the question, why not just take off the mask and just push that benefit to the country that those in the city get for free instead of forcing those constituents who live in rural districts to go witch-hunting amongst the books, curriculum, and staff for excuses to pull their kids? If a rural constituent is that paranoid of the public school system, why not save everyone the headache and allow them the opportunity you are giving those in more populous districts without fuss?

Why not just go all the way and apply section 5a to all schools instead?

There was no need to involve the furries in the Senate’s desire to gut public education in the State of Oklahoma. The only rational for this is that when eventually the state does find the rural schools “triggering”, then they can just blame the environmentalists, queers, and furries for the rural Oklahoman’s lack of options for public education for their children. Sort of a preamble to a New Jersey FurBQ situation where the state uses salacious rumors in order to defund and dismantle what they wanted to in the first place.

If the liquidation of the Oklahoma public schools system is something the Oklahoma Senate wishes to do, then the Senate should own it. Stop looking for another person or group as an excuse to trigger your plan, and just execute it. Stop wasting tax dollars with this legislative game of proselytizing, and simplify the bill to the Senate’s true intent.

By doing this the Senate could remove about over a third of the language of the bill, make it more cost effective since they wouldn't have to worry about reporting agency activity, and not insult the intelligence of the state's rural constituents that they are forced to jump through hoops just to have the same options the urban citizens of the state have.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

Yeah, Oklahoma education is fucked.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

So i get being furry focused and all but eh "promoting social and emotional learning" as a reason to be a trigger district is incredibly weird? this immediatly qualifies ANY school ANYWHERE to be a trigger district cause well... this is the school it's job?

What are examples of social emotional learning?
Use these activities to teach elementary students about identifying emotions, being kind and working together.
Encouraging positive self-talk. SEL skills: Self-awareness, self-regulation.
Random acts of kindness.
Writing a story together.
Morning questions.
Playing games.

like.. this is basic education for younger children to make them balanced emotionally stable adults? and it's listed as a reason to allow parents to pull their kids from the school?????

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

I'm just surprised the word "vaccine" isn't in there anywhere.

Your rating: None Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

That is one, extremely stupid law. The furry thing is fairly well addressed here but that is really problematic conceptually. When they say "the following concepts or activities have been advocated or tolerated" does that mean by a school itself or just a teacher or even a pupil? If it's anything other than the school's official position, that would ridiculously broad.

This is also an issue from a free speech perspective because that law is not viewpoint neutral. It's listed specific views that are unacceptable. That's not okay from anyone; banning positive messages about oil and coal would be just as bad. Even if it's not restricting what the school can say exactly, it'll likely run afoul of the First Amendment since it's very clearly intending to prevent certain views from being expressed.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Indeed, which is why if they change the definition of an "Eligable student" from what is in the article above to:

5. “Eligible student” means:
a resident of this state who is eligible to
enroll in a public school in this state.

They can literal remove the section on "Trigger Districts" and the law would hold up to more scrutiny.

But they won't because they know rural teachers and parents will see it as a way to gut their school system. They're using the fear of the left and furries as a smokescreen do do that instead.

The way in which the phrasing of the Trigger districts as written seems to imply is that it is the staff or school itself promoting or doing the items in question and not if the conversation or instigation is made by the student. But of course, that nuance is going to be hard to distinguish when Billy tells mom/dad about what young Bob is saying in school and the teacher won't correct or come down on them for Bob's left thoughts.

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I find the existence of this bill in the first place quite humorous. Reading through the bill, it's clear they want to limit certain viewpoints from being expressed. What I really want to know is how many parents, especially those located in rural counties, would actually utilise this.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

There are plenty of those in the rural county who would probably jump on being paid to, in essence, take their kid out of the private school system.

The difference is that 75% of the state don't need a reason as it is written, and 25% of them need a reason.

It could be a desire to suppress expression in rural school staff, but it is more likely that it's a poison pill. They'll look for a Republican who will be willing to play the role of one of those items listed and put them into the school to parade them as a means of getting rural schools to liquidize.

The reason they added this is two fold:
1) They believe rural areas will accept the bill because they have sold the elements in the bill as boogeymen to them and they'll think its good policy.

2) The sensationalism of the Trigger District section draws attention away from the fact that parents in rural districts are being discriminated against in a way that parents in urban districts are not.

The problem here is that if it's anything rural folks hate more than any of those things they listed to "trigger" them, it's a government man giving city people a leg up on country folk.

Your rating: None Average: 2.6 (5 votes)

I think the anon has a point, because optimistically speaking, the thing about rural school districts is that ... it's basically everybody knows everybody, so Frankie Joe Rural Conservative may think Bobby Mae Teacher is a liberal dingbat, but, you know, they're neighbors (even if they actually live 20 miles away).

Less optimistically, even the teachers are hardcore conservatives in a lot of rural areas.

Edit because I got busy and didn't have time to make the actual point I wanted to make, but most OK conservative parents know their kid's district isn't "doing an anthropormorphism" or whatever, in fact may even know the AP English teacher is having her students read Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and Animal Farm, but are okay with that because it's Mrs. Smith who's been in the position since they were in school (and before), but they also suspect that probably there's homosexual groomer liberals, like, all over the OKC or Tulsa or wherever on the other side of the state school districts, and somebody has to protect those children. So I don't think rural OK conservatives will feel like they're getting the short end of the stick, partially because, well, they're idiots a lot of the time, but mostly because, ironically, it will make them feel like they're the one sticking it to the "urban elites".

Basically, this feels more like a "get conservatives to the polls" issue, because while they're there they'll probably vote for whatever Republicans are up for office, than a real thing. I doubt the bill sponsors actually think this will result in anything happening, and if it does actually drive a few kids to private schools or get some teachers fired, well, that's extra bonus points but not the main reasoning.

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Updated, after doing some math before doing the video version of this story, I found that the "Trigger District" only applies to 3% of the state instead of "25%". This is because the 75% of counties that fall under 5a actually have 97% of the population...

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