Talk about not reading the room. A state senator compared homosexuality to bestiality — and LGBTQ students are on the warpath.
Wyoming Equality, the only statewide LGBTQ-civil rights organization in the Cowboy State, alleges that Republican State Sen. Lynn Hutchings met with several students on Feb. 1 and equated homosexuality to both pedophilia and bestiality.
At its biannual Gay-Straight Alliance Civics Day in which students across the state convene to learn about government and civic engagement, students from her district asked to meet with Hutchings to request she support a bill that would strengthen protections against LGBTQ workplace discrimination.
In a public statement addressed to State Senate president Drew Perkins, Wyoming Equality said that the senator claimed to not be familiar with the bill which had recently not been given a vote in the state legislature.
After the students explained the bill’s intent and their desire for her to support it, Hutchings allegedly said, “If my sexual orientation was to have sex with all of the men in there and I had sex with all of the women in there and then they brought their children and I had sex with all of them and then brought their dogs in and I had sex with them, should I be protected for my sexual orientation?”
After the students attempted to clarify why the senator should support the bill, she “motioned to fist- bump the students and embraced one of them” at the end of their meeting.
The students and their teacher reportedly removed themselves from the state legislature before reentering to meet with other legislators. They also made Wyoming Equality representatives aware of their meeting with Hutchings.
“It is our understanding that while the state legislature’s anti-harassment policy mentions no protected classes, including sexual orientation and gender identity, Senator Hutchings’ behavior was unacceptable and inexcusable,” Wyoming Equality’s complaint reads. “Fourteen- and fifteen-year old high school students wishing to engage with the legislative process should not have been confronted with the comments made by Senator Hutchings.”
According to the Caspar Star Tribune, requests for comment about the incident from Hutchings have gone unanswered.
The Cheyenne-based civil rights group received support from Mayor Mariann Orr, who tweeted shortly after the org’s statement was published, “”Shame on you, Sen Hutchings. We deserve better. Our youth deserve better. Bestiality is equivalent to being gay? Really?”
State Senate President Perkins is planning to meet with Hutchings this week, the Star Tribune reported.
“This incident is not unique,” the informal complaint says. “We hear stories like this across Wyoming all time. The difference is this happened at the state legislature where every Wyomingite should be welcomed and given the respect and dignity we all deserve.”