A Top Oklahoma Schools Official Is Under Fire for Ties to an Anti-Trans Influencer

Oklahoma State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters, already under fire for his anti-transgender rhetoric following the death of Nex Benedict earlier this month, has been linked to a far-right podcaster who called for violence against trans youth, according to a new report from Media Matters for America.

The nonprofit media watchdog reported on Wednesday that Walters, a hardline anti-trans Republican and advocate for Christianity in schools who has claimed “woke ideology endangers our kids,” was elected in 2022 in part due to the steadfast endorsement of Oklahoma podcaster and social media personality Ron “The Real Ron Ron” Causby. Causby himself claims to have a “bromance” with Walters, having hosted him at multiple events throughout Walters’ 2022 campaign, including a meet-and-greet in February and a barbecue at Causby’s own house that summer. But in January that same year, Media Matters found that Causby had also been rejected from positions as a school bus driver and substitute teacher in part because of violent rhetoric on his podcast targeting trans youth.

According to emails from January 2022 obtained by Media Matters (and which Causby posted on his own Facebook page), Causby was rejected from both positions at Owasso Public Schools — the same school district Nex Benedict attended — because of violently anti-trans statements on social media and his podcast “Loud Mouths.” Causby specifically said on his podcast he had given his daughter permission to “kick the shit out of” any trans student they found using the school bathroom, and demanded trans kids “use the restroom legitimately” in a speech that same month to the Owasso school board.

“[W]hat if he happened to have a transgender student in one of the classes he was subbing in?” wrote Superintendent Dr. Margaret Coates in an internal email dated January 20 rejecting Causby’s candidacy. Causby’s meet-and-greet event for Ryan Walters, held on behalf of the right-wing group Tulsa Parents Voice, took place the following month.

In August last year, Causby was arrested and charged with burglary and stalking after allegedly entering his ex-wife’s home during the night. Those charges were later dropped.

Walters has already drawn criticism this month for his anti-trans views in the wake of Nex Benedict’s sudden death following a bullying-related fight in an Owasso High School bathroom. In videos posted to social media, Walters accused “the left” and unnamed media outlets of lying about the facts of Benedict’s death to push a political agenda against him and other conservatives, vowing he “won’t back down to woke mobs.”

Prior to the tragedy in Owasso, Walters had already courted criticism by appointing non-Oklahoma resident Chaya Raichik, founder of the infamous anti-trans propaganda network “Libs of TikTok,” to a state advisory committee on school libraries. Raichik has herself been linked by numerous schools across the U.S. to a string of bomb and death threats, which allegedly come within days after a school is featured on Libs of TikTok. Although she has denied culpability for any violence, Raichik has also posted photos of herself to X, formerly Twitter, apparently pleased at the report linking her to the threats. (Causby has also called such threats “fake,” Media Matters noted.)

Walters and Raichik’s rhetoric puts trans and gender-nonconforming youth in danger “in so, so many ways,” said Oklahoma Rep. Mauree Turner, who is the first openly nonbinary person to hold state office in the U.S., in remarks to MSNBC on Sunday. “Why would you want to strive for a political office that has you put our children in the crosshairs of hate and bigotry?”

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