Niecy Nash
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Oklahoma Teacher Draws Outrage by Calling LGBTQ+ People 'Sinful'

Frederick Middle School

A mother and daughter in Frederick, Okla., are enraged over a comment the girl says her teacher made in class, calling LGBTQ+ people, most specifically transgender people, “sinful.”

Sixth-grader Karagyn Snodgrass, 12, who identifies as pansexual, said the teacher at Frederick Middle School made the remark during a political discussion last week, local media report. The teacher’s name has not been made public.

“The teacher said that it’s sinful to be trans and change your body,” Karagyn told Oklahoma City TV station KFOR. “It was very infuriating because I have a lot of friends that are LGBTQ and then I am.”

Karagyn quickly called her mother, Dawn Snodgrass. “When she called me, I was shaking and crying and I couldn’t even form thoughts,” Dawn told KFOR. “I was very upset.”

She drove to the school and spoke to the principal and a counselor, who told her the teacher was sorry. “She knew what she had done and that she won’t do it again,” Dawn Snodgrass said. “And I told [the principal] that’s not enough for me. I will not tolerate my daughter or that class being singled out.”

She brought up the possibility of protests, and she wants her daughter removed from that teacher’s class, plus for the school to issue a formal apology and adopt a nondiscrimination policy.

“I would hope that policies are put into place moving forward to protect not only the LGBTQ community but the student body as a whole,” Dawn told another local media outlet, the Texoma News Network. “I mean, from all religious backgrounds, all varying viewpoints.” It’s not uncommon for teachers in small Oklahoma towns to bring up religion, even in public schools like Frederick Middle School.

She posted on Facebook Tuesday that she had met with the principal, counselor, and teacher, and they agreed to issue the apology, let Karagyn change classes if she still wants to, and “revisit the policies to see what they can change to make sure the climate at the school is accepting of children from various backgrounds and free from religion and hate.” She will meet with them again next week for a progress report and discuss further steps, such as starting an LGBTQ+ club at the school, she said.

Karagyn said anti-LGBTQ+ religious views had come up in her sixth-grade class before, such as people being killed for being LGBTQ+ in biblical times. It’s not clear if those comments came from the teacher or fellow students.

“There’s multiple kids in the classroom that have family members or friends or someone — themselves — a part of the community as well, so they were probably hurt by this as well,” she told the Texoma News Network of the most recent incident.

Frederick Public Schools Superintendent Shannon Vanderburg told the network the district had investigated the matter but that he couldn’t share details. He said any bigoted remarks by teachers are unacceptable.

“We don’t ever want that to happen here,” he said. “We always strive to provide a school where all kids are welcome [and] can pursue their education unimpeded.”

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