Wyoming GOP leadership responded to a simmering controversy today regarding a complaint about comments allegedly made by a Republican senator.
According to reports, students from Cheyenne Central High School spoke with Cheyenne Senator Lynn Hutchings about legislation protecting LGBTQ people from job discrimination.
According to WyoFile, the students were stunned when Hutchings instead talked about pedophilia, bestiality and the act of sex.
“I felt very angry because this is not the conversation we came to have at the Legislature,” a 17-year-old student told WyoFile.
The students were members of the Gay-Straight Alliance high school club and were participating in “Civics Day,” according to WyoFile, who interviewed two of the students.
On Monday morning, Sen. Hutchings told WyoFile in a brief interview that the story was not true and blamed reporters negligence having led to her receiving “death threats.”
According to WyoFile, the LGBTQ advocacy group Wyoming Equality filed a complaint last week with Senate President Drew Perkins, R-Casper, on behalf of the students.
“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,” read the complaint.
The complaint, which received nationwide media attention, can be read in full here.
On Monday afternoon the Wyoming GOP released a statement responding to Wyoming Equality’s complaint.
“Let us be clear, the message from the Wyoming Senate is this – all Wyoming citizens are welcome here,” said the release. “We want to hear from you. We need to hear from you. We are blessed to have a citizen legislature in Wyoming, and that means the voices of ever single person should be heard and considered.”
The release goes on to say the Senate leaders will look into the matter. “Both Senator Hutchings and these students deserve fair consideration and respect as we work to address this matter,” said the release.
“As per policy and rule of the Legislature, complains filed against the individual members and proceedings that follow are confidential,” the release concludes.
The students met with Hutchings on Feb. 1, when they went to the Senate lobby to speak about a bill that would add “sexual orientation and gender identity to race, political affiliation and other classes protected from discrimination in employment practices,” according to WyoFile.
The bill died when members of the House declined to bring it up for debate before deadline.