Bizarre tweet about girls’ restroom backfires on Oklahoma’s education czar

Ryan Walters — the Republican education official from Oklahoma who made headlines during his campaign by falsely claiming there were students in American schools identifying as cats — has once again become the focus controversy, this time for a bizarre tweet.

Early Saturday evening, Walters, Oklahoma’s secretary of education and state superintendent of public instruction, posted a tweet from her campaign account with a black and white image of a high school girl washing her hands in a bathroom, while two other girls look at her warily in the mirror.

The image included the words “Student safety over liberal agenda.” In the tweet itself, Walters wrote, “I will always fight for students.”

The tweet’s ambiguity left it wide open to interpretation — especially since the girl at the sink is white, while the two girls staring at her appear to be people of color.

Walters’ message caused an op-ed Tuesday in The Oklahomanthe state’s largest newspaper, which called on him to cool his rhetoric or resign.

“There is nothing exemplary about Walters’ implications in Saturday’s tweet. It’s time for Oklahomans to take a stand for leadership that exudes decency and competence from the superintendent and demand that he put end his derogatory rhetoric or resign,” the editorial said. “That would be the best antidote to this metastasizing poison, a good place to start.”

The state Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.

Many people on Twitter saw Walters’ post as racist.

“Saving white girls from non-white girls, just the hero we need”, said one user sarcastically.

“So, no mixed toilets?” another wrote. “Are you repeating the quiet part out loud?”

Others, pointing to a “Did you wash your hands?” sign visible in the photo, jokingly speculated that Walters was railing against basic hygiene. “Rights or not, people should wash their hands”, a user replied.

“It’s time for Oklahomans to take a stand for leadership that exudes decency and competence from the superintendent and demand that he end his derogatory rhetoric or resign.”

– Editorial in The Oklahoman newspaper

As of Wednesday afternoon, the tweet had generated over 1,300 comments and 175 likes, and had been viewed over a million times.

This is not Walters’ first brush with controversy. He was a strong supporter of school vouchers, which rural schools in the state hate, and he often spoke out against “critical race theory,” an academic term that conservatives have adopted as a catch phrase for virtually every instance where an educator recognizes the existence of systemic inequalities.

Walters barely won the Republican nomination for superintendent, but easily won the general election in the deeply culturally conservative state.

In his general campaign, he said a former colleague told him there had been a meeting about students at the co-worker’s school who allegedly identified as cats and asked to use litter boxes. The superintendent of the former Walters School District in McAlester said no such meeting had ever taken place.

Walters and his rhetoric have even been cited by Democrats in the wake of Oklahoma’s two recent failed attempts to set up a battery manufacturing plant. In one case, a Panasonic plant eventually moved to nearby Kansas, and just days ago Volkswagen announced it would be building in Ontario, Canada, instead of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma officials recently tried unsuccessfully to lure two different battery manufacturing plants to the state, as part of an effort to reduce the state’s reliance on oil and gas production. natural.

Rep. of State Cyndi Munson (Oklahoma City), tThe Democratic leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives said, “If we want big companies like Volkswagen to choose Oklahoma over other states and countries like Canada, we need more than just incentives. taxes,” referring to the $700 million in tax relief offered by Oklahoma. for the Volkswagen plant.

“We need lawmakers to stop making laws that limit access to health care for women and transgender Oklahomans,” Munson said. “We need the Governor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction to stop working to fund and expose our public schools.”

Whatever tweet Walters intended to convey, some Twitter commenters simply remained in awe of his poor execution.

As someone put it: “High five to the design intern who clearly hates you.”

The Huffington Gt

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