TALIHINA, Okla. — School began about two months ago for Talihina students and parents Amber and Jonathon Stepp say what happened to their 11-year-old son within those two months has them feeling uneasy.
“I’m supposed to trust this professional to teach my son positive things, not hatred.”
They say their son’s 5th-grade teacher encouraged students to use an anti-gay slur when their son, who has special learning needs, was “horse playing” with another boy.
“To shame the boys into not wanting to do that…” Jonathon said.
He says his son didn’t know what the word meant, so he asked his dad.
“Cause we don’t use those words,” Jonathon said. “And I explained to him and he started crying and he asked me, ‘daddy why would you call me that?’ I didn’t have an answer for my son.'”
For those answers, they say they went to the Talihina Elementary School principal, the superintendent and even the teacher himself.
Amber says she recorded a phone conversation she had with the teacher. In part of the conversation, you can hear the teacher explain why he encouraged students to use the derogatory term.
“Two of the boys were wrestling with each other and started yelling saying, ‘he’s touching me, he’s touching me’ and I said, ‘yeah when he does that yell f** alert.’”
“I never expected it to happen to anyone, let alone my own child,” Jonathon said.
5NEWS confirmed with the Talihina Public School District that it did launch an investigation. The Stepps say their son was sent home from school during the investigation.
“The teacher has options to go home,” Amber said. “But our child does not have an option as he does not get his special ed services.”
Talihina schools released a statement to 5NEWS that reads:
“Talihina Public Schools values and takes student and employee safety very seriously. We have received this complaint and, in response, have completed an investigation and taken appropriate action. This teacher does remain employed in our school district. We cannot comment further as this involves confidential personnel and confidential student information. “
“Our son was to return to the classroom,” Amber said. “His classroom or an all-girl classroom.”
The parents say 5th grade is the only grade to separate students by gender.
“It’s completely inappropriate to expect a child that’s been bullied by the teacher to return to that classroom and completely inappropriate to put him in the middle of an all-girl classroom,” Amber said.
“I feel like the school has completely failed all the children that has been affected by this.”
The Stepps say they reached out to the Oklahoma Department of Education and are waiting for it to complete its investigation. Then they say they will figure out what to do with their son.
No further details have been released at this time.