A Christian school in Oklahoma has expelled an eight-year-old girl for professing to have a crush on a female classmate. Second-grader Chloe Shelton found herself in the vice principal’s office for making the comment on the school playground. Before long, the school had dismissed her completely — leaving the young girl confused and in tears.
The Rejoice Christian School in Owasso, Oklahoma called Chloe’s mom, Delanie Shelton, following the playground incident.
“Before I was even called, the vice principal told Chloe that the Bible says that women can only have children with a man,” the mother told CNN. “[The vice principal] asked me how I feel about girls liking girls and I told her that I see no issue with it.”
When Delanie arrived to pick up her daughter, administrators reportedly told her not to bring her back again. The next day, Superintendent Joe Peplin called to notify her that the school would be “ending their partnership” with the family, dismissing both Chloe and her 5-year-old brother.
“I was so blindsided,” said the mom. “I was angry, hurt, betrayed, sad… so many different emotions. I asked him to have a sit-down meeting to discuss it and process it better and he refused, saying that ‘nothing more needed to be discussed.'”
The school’s handbook reportedly states that “professing to be homosexual/bisexual” constitutes “sexual immorality,” and is grounds for dismissal. However, Delanie argued that Chloe had not broken the rule.
“It wasn’t a relationship nor a practice,” she argued. “Just a crush. To an 8-year-old, that could just mean that she really enjoys playing on the playground with her.”
The mother told Fox 23 News that the incident upset her daughter to the point of tears.
“My daughter was crying saying, ‘does God still love me?'” she recalled.
Rejoice Christian School declined to comment on the situation, citing official policy.
Chloe’s story has since gone viral, thanks in part to former Rejoice Christian School student Kylie Holden. The 26-year-old told CNN that the 8-year-old’s situation reminded her of discrimination friends of hers faced while attending the school.
Taking to Facebook, Holden began coordinating care packages for the Shelton family from all over North America.
“I just don’t want her to feel like we did,” she said. “I don’t want her to grow up thinking that she is not worthwhile, because that is so not true.”
Local leaders have also lent their support to Chloe, including Morgan Allen of Oklahomans for Equality, who condemned the school.
“The hardest thing about this is we’re telling children that it’s wrong to love, that it is bad to feel,” Allen said. “And the worst part is, coming from a Christian school, we are saying God doesn’t love you for who you are and that is not true.”
The outpouring of support has raised Chloe’s spirits as her family searches for a new school for her and her brother.
“I feel so loved and supported, thank you so much everyone who helped me feel better for being who I am,” the eight-year-old told Fox 23.