Oklahoma Teacher Fired Over The Laramie Project

After showing her class the 2002 film adaptation of The Laramie Project, about the hate crime killing of Matthew Shepard, Debra Taylor's high school class wanted to film scenes for a class project. A few weeks later she was fired. Students say it's because the community is homophobic.

Taylor USA Today reports: "Taylor, 50, knew the project was controversial with strong language, but got her principal's permission. A few weeks into it, the principal told her to stop production. After students protested, she held a 20-minute ceremony in a nearby park in which students wrote their thoughts and rolled them into helium balloons, then released them. The next day, Taylor says, Superintendent Ed Turlington canceled the class. After she complained to a school board member, Turlington put her on paid leave and recommended that she be fired. The school board approved her resignation Friday. Taylor says she was let go for complaining to the board member, but others say it was a result of the play's subject: homophobia. 'They don't want something like this addressed in our community,' says senior Matt Ebner, one of Taylor's former students."

Said Taylor: "I didn't ask [the students] to change their belief systems, but what I asked them was, 'Can you be tolerant of those that are different from you?' Many times the students came back and said, 'I don't like gays.' I said: 'I'm not asking you to like gays. But can you be tolerant?'"

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) is urging people to contact the school's superintendent at 580-479-5237 or email him at eturlington@grandfield.k12.ok.us.

Watch a local news report on the incident, AFTER THE JUMP (warning: video is autoplay)...