Ryan Walters, the top school official in Oklahoma, has appointed an inflammatory right-wing activist known for targeting LGBTQ+ teachers to the library media advisory committee at the state Department of Education.
Chaya Raichik runs “Libs of TikTok,” a popular account on X (formerly Twitter) where she posts videos about LGBTQ+ educators, often smearing them as “groomers” or “indoctrinators.”
Walters claimed that Raichik, who lives in California, is a valuable asset to Oklahoma schools.
“Chaya is on the front lines showing the world exactly what the radical left is all about — lowering standards, porn in schools, and pushing woke indoctrination on our kids,” Walters, the state superintendent of schools, said in a press release Tuesday. “Because of her work, families across the country know just what is going on in schools around the country.”
“Her unique perspective is invaluable as part of my plan to make Oklahoma schools safer for kids and friendly to parents,” he continued. “Chaya has a much-needed and powerful voice as well as a tremendous platform that will benefit Oklahoma students and their families.”
The war on books is a part of the right’s larger fight against public schools, and its efforts to keep libraries from providing books to children and students that feature LGBTQ+ themes and progressive concepts. In an attempt to remove these books from schools, conservatives have likened them to pornography and other topics unsuitable for children.
Both Raichik and Walters are well-versed in the conservative culture wars. Raichik began posting videos in 2021 where she criticized educators and claimed they were indoctrinating children, and Walters has been smearing Oklahoma teachers and making false claims about sexually explicit materials in schools since his days as Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of education.
Raichik does not appear to have any experience in schools or government, but her platform has already led to bomb threats in Oklahoma schools.
In August, Raichik posted a video to X of a librarian at the Union School District, in suburban Tulsa, making light of the conservative moral panic that teachers are pushing a “woke agenda.”
Raichik’s videos have affected teachers and educators across the country. In August, a majority-white California elementary school was evacuated due to bomb threats after Raichik criticized a playdate event for students of color there. In November, a public school district in Iowa received a deluge of threats and upped its security after Raichik reposted a video of a teacher joking about “forcing” students to be gay.
The state’s largest teachers organization spoke out against the appointment. “Oklahoma has thousands of qualified active and retired library media specialists in addition to education experts capable of evaluating Oklahoma standards. However, instead of elevating Oklahoma educators, an out-of-state political actor with no expertise is appointed to OSDE’s Library Media Advisory Committee,” the Oklahoma Education Association told HuffPost in a statement.
“This appointee posted a doctored video which provoked attacks on a Tulsa Union educator, which led to bomb threats that shut down an Oklahoma school district for days. This is part of a disturbing trend of allowing disreputable and inflammatory outside voices to have influence over Oklahoma public education. Oklahoma’s educators deserve to have their voices heard and represented by those invested in Oklahoma communities.”