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Award-winning principal forced to resign after hate influencer outs him as a weekend drag queen

drag queen with finger over mouth
Photo: Shutterstock

An award-winning Oklahoma principal has been forced to resign after he performs as a drag queen on the weekends.

Ryan Walters, the right-wing superintendent of the Oklahoma State Department of Education, began calling for Shane Murnan’s termination after hate influencer Chaya Raichik posted about his drag gig on her social media account Libs of TikTok in September.

Murnan has been an educator for over two decades but started a new job as John Glenn Elementary School principal in 2023. Raichik reportedly learned of his side job as a drag queen from an anonymous newsletter that also called attention to decades-old criminal charges against Murnan that were dropped. As soon as she posted about Murnan, the school began receiving bomb threats – a common occurrence for institutions highlighted on the Libs of TikTok account.

After his drag queen persona was thrust to the forefront – though he never kept it a secret – the school banned Murnan from working in the building during the day, deeming his presence a safety risk, according to a report from NBC News. Western Heights Superintendent Brayden Savage at first stood by Murnan but ultimately told him to resign or face termination due to the added security costs the school was incurring.

Savage reportedly told school staff, “I’m not caving to Ryan Walters, but I have to ultimately keep the students and the staff of this school safe. The hate has not stopped. To bring Shane back to the building is a risk to safety for all. I cannot be totally sure that one of those crazies will not show up to, quote-unquote, cleanse the building, which is something I’ve seen over and over again.”

In the meantime, Murnan’s life has been turned upside down.

“I’m a very professional person — I’ve worked really hard,” Murnan told NBC. “I’ve gone to school. I got my bachelor’s, my master’s, my doctorate — I have been devoted to education, trying to make it a better thing. But they’ve destroyed me, and I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing now. This has been a nightmare.”

He added, “There’s never been an issue, because I’ve never put it out there to make it an issue. I did my side job on the weekends, and then I went to work and worked my tail off to make the school a better place. They never conflicted with each other. Then someone took it and ran with it and tried to make it into a spectacle that it’s not.”

Walters posted a video on X to celebrate Murnan’s resignation, calling it “a great day for Oklahoma schools.” He claimed parents across the country were “outraged” and said he would continue to investigate the school to figure out how Murnan was hired in the first place and hold those who selected him accountable.

“It will not be tolerated here in Oklahoma to have drag queens in the classroom,” he said.

When the school hired Murnan, administrators posted a statement acknowledging awareness of old criminal charges against him, emphasizing that he “has an outstanding reputation” and “comes highly recommended.” Murnan was reportedly charged with possession of child sex abuse materials in 2001, charges that were later dropped due to lack of evidence, according to NonDoc. Murnan’s record was expunged.

“It was a witch hunt,” he said. “Back in that time, being gay was not acceptable. I mean, that was (nearly) 25 years ago. And being gay wasn’t acceptable.”

Walters has used the situation to call for a statewide ban on hiring any educators who work as drag queens outside of school.

“The issue that we’ve seen in one district in particular, and that is the use of drag queens as administrators and being hired by a district,” he told the state Board of Education in December, according to NPR. “We are proposing a rule that would update the teacher code of conduct to include sexual activity in public targeted towards kids to be inappropriate for those that work with our youngest students. I’ve heard from parents all over the state who are very concerned with the left, pushing sexuality on our kids, pushing transgender ideology.”

Walters has become known for his extremist agenda for Oklahoma schools. He wants to ban LGBTQ+ books but teach the Bible in public school history classes and has previously pushed the transphobic lie about schools providing litterboxes to students who identify as cats. He also referred to teachers’ unions as “terrorist organizations” and illegally tried to make rules banning LGBTQ+ books and transgender bathroom access in schools. He has appeared at events hosted by Moms for Liberty, a right-wing anti-LGBTQ+ “parent’s rights” group that has been called an extremist organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In September, he announced an “ongoing partnership” with right-wing propaganda group PragerU, allowing the conservative nonprofit’s controversial videos to be shown in state classrooms.

When running for his current office, Walters said he wanted his state’s teachers to “undergo patriotic education offered by a conservative Christian college” because “our students are not taught history but instead are taught indoctrination, instead taught this country is an evil place full of bigoted racists,” KOCO-TV reported.

And in January, Walters appointed Raichik to serve on the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Library Media Advisory Committee. The committee decides what state public school students are allowed to read; Raichik doesn’t live in the state and has no experience working in education.

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