OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR)- During a public forum in Tahlequah, a State Senator referred to the 2SLGBTQ+ community as ‘that filth’ while answering a question on connections between recent legislation and a nonbinary student’s death in Owasso, saying his constituents “don’t want that in the state of Oklahoma,” as recorded by the Tahlequah Daily Press.

According to the Tahlequah Daily Press, Cathy Cott asked the panel – consisting of Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell, Sen. Blake “Cowboy” Stephens, R-Tahlequah, Sen. Tom Woods, R-Westville, and Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee – about the dozens of anti-LGBTQ+ bills making their way through the current legislative session.

Vigils held nationwide for nonbinary Oklahoma teenager who died day after school bathroom fight

“A 16-year-old died after being beaten in Owasso High School, what do you think of that?” Cott said. “They were targeted because of some of these bills and some of the things Ryan Walters has said.”

Cott is referring to 16-year-old Nex Benedict, a nonbinary student who died one day after a ‘physical altercation’ in a bathroom at Owasso High School.

Benedict’s cause of death has not yet been determined. Owasso Police say preliminary autopsy reports indicate Benedict’s death was ‘not a result of trauma.’ A search warrant indicated investigators ‘suspect foul play involved.’

Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools abruptly resigns

After two other lawmakers respond, Sen. Tom Woods, R-Westville, begins his reply.

“My heart goes out to that scenario, if that is the case,” said Woods. “We’re 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 are a moral state.

Tom Woods, R-Westville

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director, Nicole McAfee told KFOR it’s disturbing to hear those remarks come from a state leader.

“It makes it very clear our folks in power in Oklahoma can look at the death of a young person and instead of acknowledging the role their rhetoric is playing in it, that they are willing to let more queer and trans and non-binary kids die to advance hateful political agendas,” stated McAfee.

She explained Sen. Woods needs to publicly apologize. She said censuring him would strip a voice from his constituents who voted him in, but it shouldn’t be off the table.

“The legislature should reflect on ending Representative Turner’s censure, while also working to figure out how to best hold someone who’s engaging in this hateful rhetoric accountable,” said McAfee. “When I learned about the news on Friday afternoon, [Sen. Woods] had already started doubling down on some of his comments, saying, ‘Yes, I was quoted accurately,’ not offering any sort of apology or remorse. I think it is really awful that he feels that an environment exists in this building and in the Senate for him to be able to do that without any sort of consequence at all.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) said Sen. Woods’ remarks are not appropriate.

“Senator Woods and I have spoken, and I made it clear that his remarks were reprehensible and inappropriate. “I am of the belief that all people are image-bearers of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. His remarks were not in any way reflective of myself, the Senate Republican caucus, Senate leadership or the Senate overall. In my opinion, he had a serious lapse of judgment and it has distracted from the mission and good work we are attempting to advance on behalf of all Oklahomans.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC)

Vigil held for nonbinary Oklahoma teenager who died following a school bathroom fight

News 4 stopped by Sen. Woods’ office and reached out via email several times Monday.

“Do you wanna talk to them now or later?,” Sen. Woods was asked by his office.

“Tell them to sign in,” he responded.

“She already did,” said his office.

“Tell them I’ll meet them later. We’ll make time to get together,” stated Sen. Woods.

“He’s in deep discussion in there. He said sorry but he would make time later but not now,” Sen. Woods’ office told News 4. We asked for an estimated time of when he could do an interview, but one was not provided.

A statement was released late Monday afternoon and it reads in part:


Oklahoma News

The Latest “>

Wall Street edges back from its record heights

Fire crews respond to apartment fire in NW OKC

OKCPD standoff ends with suspect arrested in NW OKC

“Firstly, I want to say that a child losing their life is horrible. They were a victim of bullying and that is never okay. It is always a tragedy when someone loses their life. I said that Friday and I mean that still today. I hope anyone struggling in a similar position gets the help they need as soon as possible.

I also want to say that I stand behind what I believe in. The groups and individuals who push gender reassignment on children in our schools, and anyone else who is trying to normalize behavior that shouldn’t be tolerated, is unacceptable in my mind.”

Sen. Tom Woods R-Westville, Dist. 4

Whether or not Sen. Woods will face consequences for his remarks hasn’t been publicly determined yet.