An Oklahoma elementary school principal with a past as a drag performer and prior child pornography charges has stepped down from their role, sparking a debate on educational leadership and community standards.
Principal’s Dual Identity
Dr. Shane Murnan, known on stage as “Shantel Mandalay,” had balanced a career in education at John Glenn Elementary School with participation in drag performance, a fact that became a focal point of contention.
Hiring Amidst Past Charges
Upon hiring Murnan in June 2023, the Western Heights School District acknowledged being informed of dismissed charges against Murnan dating back over two decades, attempting to mitigate concerns about the principal’s past.
Social Media Exposure
The situation escalated when the Libs of TikTok account brought Murnan’s drag persona to widespread attention in September 2023, leading to public and official calls for the principal’s resignation.
Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ryan Walters, vocally criticized Murnan’s position and activities, expressing a strong stance against the involvement of drag performers in educational settings, especially in front of children.
Walters’ X Posts
“The drag queen is out at Western Heights. I’ve demanded it from day one,” Walters said in a video posted Friday on X.
“This is not what parents want for their kids.”
“The issues at Western Heights continue. What is going on with their hiring practices?” Walters asked.
“It will not be tolerated here in Oklahoma to have drag queens in the classroom.”
Library Event Under Scrutiny
Murnan’s participation in a children’s book reading at the Metropolitan Library System in June 2021 came under scrutiny, though library officials confirmed a background check had been conducted before the event.
Security Concerns and Administrative Leave
Following social media backlash and the revelation of Murnan’s alleged past charges, the school district faced threats, leading to enhanced security measures and Murnan being directed to work off-site before eventually being placed on administrative leave.
A Polarizing Issue
The resignation of Dr. Shane Murnan from John Glenn Elementary School underscores the ongoing debate over the role of personal background and extracurricular activities in determining fitness for educational leadership, reflecting broader societal divisions over identity, performance art, and community values in the context of schooling.