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Oklahoma State Senator Blasted After Saying LGBTQ+ 'Filth' Doesn't Belong In 'Christian State'

GOP state Sen. Tom Woods sparked outrage after responding to a question about the death of nonbinary teen Nex Benedict by calling LGBTQ+ people 'filth.'

Screenshot of Tom Woods
State Chamber of Oklahoma/YouTube

Oklahoma Republican State Senator Tom Woods sparked outrage after referring to LGBTQ people as "filth" during a public forum on Friday. The comments were made in response to a question about state bills aimed at restricting the rights of transgender individuals and the recent death of Nex Benedict, a local nonbinary student.

Oklahoma's GOP-controlled legislature has introduced a significant number of anti-LGBTQ bills, with 35 introduced last year and 54 this year, including measures targeting gender-affirming care and bathroom use restrictions, according to the ACLU.

The death of Benedict, who died after being assaulted in a school bathroom, has generated further scrutiny about the impact of these laws on transgender individuals in the state.

Woods' remarks came during a panel discussion with other Republican state legislators, including Senators Blake “Cowboy” Stephens and Dewayne Pemberton, and Representative David Hardin. The question that prompted Woods' comments was posed by an audience member, Cathy Cott, who inquired about the legislature's focus on LGBTQ+ citizens and their personal lives.

He said:

“My heart goes out to that scenario, if that is the case. We are a Republican state – supermajority – in the House and Senate. I represent a constituency that doesn’t want that filth in Oklahoma.”
“We are a religious state and we are going to fight it to keep that filth out of the state of Oklahoma because we are a Christian state."
"We want to lower taxes and let people be able to live and work and go to the faith they choose. We are a Republican state and I’m going to vote my district, and I’m going to vote my values, and we don’t want that in the state of Oklahoma.”

You can hear what he said in the audio below.

Many have condemned Woods' remarks for dehumanizing Benedict and the larger LGBTQ+ community.

The LGBTQ+ community has been particularly targeted in Oklahoma, with Republican Governor Kevin Stitt signing a law last year requiring students to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificate.

Benedict's case, marked by bullying following the bathroom assault, has drawn attention, with ongoing independent investigations into the circumstances surrounding the student's death.

Benedict's family has initiated an independent inquiry into the teenager's demise following initial autopsy results that suggested the cause of death was not related to injuries sustained in the school bathroom assault. In an official statement released through their legal representatives, the family urged law enforcement to thoroughly and promptly investigate "all potentially liable parties."

While the specific cause of Benedict's death is yet to be determined, in relation to the assault, LGBTQ+ advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma has raised concerns about the reported attack preceding Benedict's passing, considering it a possible hate crime.