Oklahoma appoints Libs Of TikTok creator ‘to make schools safer’

State superintendent of public instruction for the Oklahoma State Department of Education Ryan Walters (L) with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on Sept. 14, 2023 at the DoE. (Photo Credit: Ryan Walters/Facebook)

By Erin Reed | OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. | Ryan Walters, the state superintendent of public instruction for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, has appointed Chaya Raichik, creator of the extremist online Twitter account known as Libs of TikTok, to the Library Media Advisory Committee on Tuesday.

He claimed that she would help “make Oklahoma schools safer for kids and friendly to parents.” Her appointment, however, contrasts with her history of targeting LGBTQ+ people in schools and hospitals through viral posts that often precede bomb threats against her targets.

This appointment is not Superintendent Walters’ first controversial decision. Previously, he advocated for policies promoting Christianity in public schools and entered into an agreement with PragerU to provide right-wing educational programming in schools. This educational programming claimed, among other things, that slavery was “no big deal.”

Libs of TikTok, managed by Raichik, became active in 2021 and quickly gained notoriety for posting videos and pictures of transgender and queer individuals, medical providers, teachers, and Pride events.

These posts often include editorialized captions labeling the subjects as groomers. The account’s viral posts frequently precede bomb threats against its targets. For instance, after a post about Boston Children’s Hospital’s transgender care, the hospital received bomb threats, leading to intermittent shutdowns.

In Kiel, Wisconsin, following a tweet about a transgender person in the local school district, multiple responses called for violence against the district. Consequently, Kiel schools faced a month of disruption due to bomb threats.

Other instances of violent threats following her posts have affected the University of South Dakota, a library in North Carolina, and even a librarian in Oklahoma’s Union Public Schools district. Now, Raichik will have direct influence over the library system that her posts have endangered.

Raichik appears unfazed by the violence her posts seem to spur, and in fact seems to revel in it. In an article published by Media Matters, the site 35 identified threats of violence in one report. Another disinformation researcher found 66 instances of threats following her tweets, often within 5 days of posting.

When USA Today published a groundbreaking article titled “When Libs of TikTok tweets, threats increasingly follow,” the account posted a picture of Raichik holding the paper and posing with a smile. She also changed her banner for a short time to a picture of her logo with bomb fuses attached to it.

Despite this history, or perhaps because of it, Superintendent Walters took to Twitter on Tuesday to announce that Libs of TikTok would be appointed to the state Library Media Advisory Committee. In the announcement, Walters praised her for resisting “Woke indoctrination on our kids” and stated that her presence would be integral to “making Oklahoma schools safer for kids and friendly to parents.”

Ryan Walters has been supportive of other far-right influencers and causes. In July of 2023, Ryan Walters announced that he wanted “the bible” in schools instead of LGBTQ+ books.

In September, he announced that the state Department of Education would enter into a partnership with PragerU, a far right media organization that has promoted anti-LGBTQ+ views and inaccurate claims about slavery and racism, including a video using Frederick Douglass to rationalize slavery.

On January 2nd, he announced a fight against “state sponsored atheism” and the intent to have the Ten Commandments displayed in schools.

Oklahoma has been the site of fearsome anti-LGBTQ+ politics in recent years. The governor has released guidance that would end legal recognition for transgender people in the state through a definition of “sex” that excludes recognition of legal transition.

The state has also banned gender affirming care for trans youth, implemented bathroom bans in schools, and even requires “biological sex affidavits” from student athletes. This year, the state has 23 bills submitted targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

Following the announcement, Representative Forrest Bennett, representing the 92nd district of Oklahoma, stated:

I can’t respond to every terrible thing @RyanWaltersSupt does. But his appointment of the Libs of TikTok founder is terrible enough to justify it. Her content led to a week of bomb threats @ Tulsa schools. And she’s proud of that. Ryan says he’s “proud to have her on the team.”

Meanwhile, a statement from the Democratic House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson read:

“The Superintendent’s announcement to appoint the person who runs the anti-LGTBQ social media account, Libs of TikTok, to the Oklahoma State Department of Education Library Media Advisory Committee is not a surprise, but disheartening and dangerous. Since the Republican supermajority refuses to hold Ryan Walters accountable, he continues to demonstrate his inability to do his job of taking care of our public schools. As each day passes, he becomes more of a threat to the safety of our public school administrators, teachers, students, and families – appointing the person who was behind directing hate and threats to Tulsa Public Schools last year proves my point. As the Republican supermajority has dismissed House Democrats’ call for an impeachment inquiry, Ryan Walters has yet to be held accountable and continues to be emboldened to destroy our public schools. What will enough be enough?”

The National LGBT Media Association represents 13 legacy publications in major markets across the country with a collective readership of more than 400K in print and more than 1 million + online. Learn more here: NationalLGBTMediaassociation.com.

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