For two decades, Shane Murnan worked as an educator by day and a drag queen on nights and weekends at clubs in Oklahoma City. He won awards for his performances as he moved up in his career to become an administrator. He never had a problem with his dual identities, he said, until last year.
At the start of the fall 2023 semester, as Murnan started a new job as principal of John Glenn Elementary School in the Western Heights School District, an anonymous newsletter posted about his drag persona and past criminal charges he had faced. Two days later, on Aug. 31, the far-right social media account Libs of TikTok posted about Murnan, and Ryan Walters, the incendiary state superintendent, called for him to be fired. Soon after, the district and Murnan received bomb threats, according to police records and interviews.
Now Murnan is leaving his job, while Walters tries to enact rules to make it easier to fire educators who perform in drag outside of their jobs. Murnan said he most likely won’t work for another school district in Oklahoma after this experience.
“I’m a very professional person — I’ve worked really hard,” Murnan said in an interview. “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.”