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An Oklahoma mother is speaking out after her daughter was allegedly expelled form her school after telling another girl she had a crush on her.
In an interview with NBC News, Delanie Shelton said she received a phone call from Rejoice Christian School in Owasso, Okla. on Jan. 21 requesting that she pick-up her 8-year-old daughter, Chloe.
When arrived at the school to discuss the “incident on the playground,” Vice Principal Kelli Owens reportedly asked Shelton her opinion on “girls liking girls.”
“I said, ‘Well, if I'm being honest with you, I think it's OK for girls to like girls,’ and I mean, she looked like disgusted and surprised at my answer,” Shelton told NBC.
Shelton said she was then pressed by the school’s principal, Rita Woolf, about how her daughter came to know about “this kind of language about the word ‘gay” and was eventually asked to take Chloe home — and not bring her back the next day.
Once they were home, Shelton said her daughter became distraught and started crying.
According to Shelton, Chloe’s teacher reportedly told her that “the Bible says that you can only marry a man, and you can only have kids with a man, and it's a sin for girls to like girls, and it's not in the Bible, and it's not OK in God's eyes.”
“She was crying and just asking me if God still loved her, and, you know, if she was wrong for feeling the way that she does,” Shelton said of the “heartbreaking” conversation.
Shelton assured her daughter that God still loved her — and became angry with the school for causing her daughter distress.
“You know, a school that's supposed to be teaching specifically God's love and grace and forgiveness, and no matter what, to make an 8-year-old question if God loves her is just not OK,” she said.
According to Shelton, Joel Pepin, the school’s superintendent, called her the next day to inform the family that the school was “ending their partnership” based on the differences in their beliefs. The call meant that Shelton’s 5-year-old son, Oliver, was also no longer welcome at Rejoice Christian School.
Following Chloe’s expulsion, Shelton said Woolf denied all attempts to discuss the matter. In a statement, Pepin said the school’s policy prohibits any public comments on students and families due to “privacy and other factors.”
“They weren't willing to speak with me, I guess, about anything,” Shelton said. “Just kicked my kids out after four years of going there, and we went to their church and Chloe did basketball and cheer for them, so it was like a huge part of our life. It was more than just school.”
Although access to the school’s handbook is restricted, NBC News obtained screenshots from Shelton that suggest the school has edited their policies regarding relationships since Chloe was expelled. According to one screenshot taken by Shelton the day that Chloe was expelled, the school prohibited “boyfriend-girlfriend relationships” while at school. A more recent screenshot shows revised policy now reads that students could build relationships “based on purity,” but prohibited “inappropriate displays” of affection.
According to NBC News, the family has no plans to take legal action. Shelton said, she did not consider the school’s policy when she enrolled her daughter when she was 4. Her children have since started a new school and have received support from their community which has helped Chloe in the wake of her expulsion. Chloe’s friends and family helped organize a Pride parade and the family has been receiving letters from well wishers.
“It's just made her feel so much more comfortable being herself and knowing that God still loves her and all these people that don't even know her support her and love her as well,” Shelton said.