Cody School Board Member, GOP Legislator Spar Over ‘Sexualization’ Of Students; Both Lawyer Up

A war of words between Park County School Board member Stefanie Bell and State Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams has escalated. Both have hired attorneys over remarks made at an event to stop the "sexualization" of children.

Clair McFarland

November 23, 20227 min read

Stephanie Bell and Rachel Rodriguez Williams

By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter 

Hackles are up in Cody following an event billed as a rally cry against what some deem as the sexualization of children in schools.   

Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, announced Tuesday that following the Oct. 18 event, her “minor daughter,” at home and on Rodriguez-Williams’ behalf, received a letter written by Park County School District No. 6 board vice-chair Stefanie Bell.   

Bell’s letter, which Rodriguez-Williams provided to Cowboy State Daily, requests clarification and denouncement of what Bell calls “false and defamatory language” toward school board members.   

The Park County School Board has been embroiled in book challenges this year regarding books that detractors consider to be either pornographic or inappropriate for a school setting.   

“An accusation of child abuse is a serious matter; such statements cannot be excused as political hyperbole,” reads Bell’s letter. “I ask that you clarify your position or publicly denounce the false and defamatory language directed toward the elected members of the (board), including me.”   

Bell then invited Rodriguez-Williams to learn more about the district’s book-selection methods from board members.   

Attorneys Awake  

Rodriguez-Williams said her legal counsel has responded to the school board and is “expressing deep concern regarding the tone and content of the letter written by Trustee Bell.”  

“The false, libelous and defamatory statements made by (the board) is being taken very seriously,” Rodriguez-Williams’ announcement reads.   

Bell, in responding to the announcement, told Cowboy State Daily in a Tuesday email that she hoped that she and the legislator could have settled the matter privately, but she too has contacted her attorney now that the spat is public.   

“My letter to Rep. Rodriguez-Williams requested clarity on statements persons had attributed to her,” said Bell. “I chose to address my concern to her privately and I am disappointed that her response was to seek public attention. I have referred the matter to my legal counsel.”   

‘Pornographic Material’  

Rodriguez-Williams did not use the words “child abuse” in her Oct. 18 speech, nor did she reference the Park County School District No. 6 board directly.   

However, Tim Lasseter, a Republican activist who spoke at the event, did name the Cody school libraries within the district in his own speech.   

“The school board … it’s a big job. You expect them to be in charge and to take care of your kids. You’re trusting them to oversee what happens in the schools,” he said. “In the school library right here in Cody, there is pornographic material.”  

Lasseter said the sexual orientations depicted in the books made “no difference” to him, but he objected to “graphic (sexual) detail in a school library.”   

Speech In Full  

Cowboy State Daily attended the Oct. 18 rally and transcribed Rodriguez-Williams’ speech in full. It is printed below: 

“I’m going to close this out and talk a little about Comprehensive sexuality education. Also known as CSE. It’s highly controversial and it involves more than just teaching children and youth about sexual intercourse, human anatomy and reproduction.   

“The reality is CSE programs strive to change communities such as ours and others throughout the state of Wyoming by changing sexual and gender norms and they strive to empower youth to become advocates for sexual rights.  

“CSEs promote that we have to accept diverse sexual identities and orientations. What is alarming to me is the obsession they have on focusing on sexual pleasure at no matter what age, how to obtain sexual pleasure. This includes masturbation and the promotion of high-risk sexual behaviors. This is not the old-fashioned sex ed that once included abstinence.  

“These programs are rights-based. And they promote these rights to children with the aim of liberating them from their parents’ views and beliefs.  

“The National Education Association is the largest labor union in the United States. The Wyoming Education Association used to be one of the most powerful lobbyists in the state of Wyoming at the state Capitol. I use past tense because you have elected conservatives across the state of Wyoming that I know will silence their power, will dilute their power in the state Capitol.  

“I believe that the NEA: the National Education Association, and the Wyoming Education Association have gone too far.   

“The National Education Association LGBTQ+ caucus has created a website for student and teachers; you’re probably wondering what is this new website I’m talking about. It’s all about resources, resources for youth.   

“Resources to learn about important issues to them such as how to fist and how to stimulate the anus. Shall I go on? No, I’m not going to. But that’s what’s on there.   

“Educators and school staff want to deem themselves as safe persons and safe spaces and they do this by having the ability to wear a lanyard with a badge on it and there’s a QR code on that badge.  

“We all know what a QR code does; it takes you directly to a website. It links you to a website. In this case the QR code is used to lure students to that website that teaches them they should try experimenting sexually in a new and exciting way. Such as bondage and other extreme sex acts.  

“In the state of Wyoming we have statute 14-2-206, which is titled Protection of Parental Rights. It specifically states in subsection A, the liberty of a parent to the care, custody and control of their child is a fundamental right, that resides first in the parent.   

“Subsection B: The state or any agency or political subdivision of the state shall not infringe on the parental right as provided under this section without demonstrating that the interest of the government as applied to the parent or child is a compelling state interest addressed by the least restrictive means.   

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a parental rights statute. The time has come for taxpayers, you and I parents, grandparents such as you and I to engage. You need to use your voice so that we can free young minds from indoctrination that will eventually erode our parental rights.   

“The books that are being found in school libraries across our state that expose images of sexual activity do only one thing. They rob our children of their innocence.   

“Parents have the right to the moral upbringing of their children. Across the nation and in our state we’re seeing progressive ideology being forced on the future generation and it’s directly at odds with many parents’ religious or moral convictions.  

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am running again House District 50, to serve in the people’s seat, in the people’s House. And I will do my part to serve you.    

“But we need others. Just as Dalton mentioned earlier, we need all of you, the people to stand up and to help fight against this movement. We need the grass roots we need you to testify, call your local legislators, we need you to call your school board, we need you to run for school board. We can’t do this alone.   

“I’d like to thank you for being here today; I’d like to thank all of the speakers that came, the media that’s here. A couple of dignitaries I see in the room such as senator Tim French, thank you for being here.” 

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter