Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oklahoma Teacher Fired Over Laramie Project Film

Grandfield High School's Debra Taylor the school’s Ethics and Street Law class teacher has been fired over controversy surrounding the showing of gay-themed film The Laramie Project. The movie is about Matthew Shepard's murder and the teacher wanted to facilitate discussion and promote tolerance after initial approval by the schools principal.

After the school principal reneged on his decision and Superintendent Ed Turlington told Ms. Taylor she could no longer show the film due to its subject matter, the teacher held a mock funeral in a nearby park where students could write down their thoughts and release them into balloons to develop a sense of closure on the topic.

The district says she was suspended and then fired by the board for her actions in the park, but others believe it is due to the nature of the play.

Superintendent Ed Turlington can be contacted at:



elaygee said...

Oklahoma would make a great stand in for Laramie, Wyoming if it ever comes to that. It's about as progressive as Attila the Hun and his hordes.

Anonymous said...

The action of firing the teacher could promote more murders of LGBT teens. How sad is that?

Anonymous said...

Don't just be sad over this travesty...SEND AN EMAIL OR CALL Superintendent Ed Turlington at the above contacts. Don't let them get away with it without knowing that other people are watching them.

Action is the best antidote to sadness.

Queers United said...

"Action is the best antidote to sadness" what a great line Steve, it should be the slogan for the LGBT movement. Everything sucks, but we can fix it if we band together and fight back.

Anonymous said...

She should take legal action contact HRC and file a lawsuit.

T. R Xands said...

Steve if you ever want to sell stickers/t shirts with that last line, let us know, yo.

Oh and bullshit is about what that amounts to. I love it when we stifle productive conversation. Angry letter time!

Anonymous said...

riffraf002, I am sorry to disagree. HRC is a huge problem with the LGBT Movement. We really need to move beyond them and their Trans discrimination, and racist ways.

Anonymous said...

As an Oklahoma teacher myself, I think this sounds horrible. But this article details almost no facts surrounding this incident and instead of angry letters we should first find out the details and then act accordingly. The teacher could very well have acted. Let's act on facts, not jump to conclusions.

Renee said...

Well it seems to me that the only thing the school board did say was that they didn't fire her for homophobia, they did not offer an alternative reason and therefore I do not believe that we are making an assumption by deciding that her dismissal was the result of teaching the play.

The parents should be up in arms over her firing. If the school is not willing to educate children about how terrible hate crimes are what else are they teaching children?

Anonymous said...

"they did not offer an alternative reason and therefore I do not believe that we are making an assumption by deciding that her dismissal was the result of teaching the play."

Perhaps they are following legal advice and not commenting on this issue because they believe there are pending appeals or lawsuits on the horizon. And most often, school administrations do not speak out on personnel matters.

And for the fact of the matter, insubordination is a fire-able offense, one specially specified in teaching contracts. The mock funeral can be viewed as a demonstration against the school administration, her employers. She did this mock funeral without permission from any school administrator. Instead of having an in-class discussion over the cancellation of the play (not the film, but the students were acting out the play and filming themselves), Taylor chose to stage a funeral that she knew would garner attention. Instead of focusing on the learning experience, she went for the demonstrative experience.

Anonymous said...

Again, the intentions were noble as she tried to make the students aware of gay issues. However, I think the "mini-funeral" did not justified that.

Anonymous said...

She was told 3 times to tone down the language in the play. It was after she refused to do so 3 times that the play was cancelled. Then, she went off campus without permission for the mock funeral, which consisted of releasing baloons with hate messages and death threats against the Superintendant and school board. She shouldn't have just been fired; she should have been arrested.

Get the facts, please.

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