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A Tennessee teacher has sparked outrage for sending a message to a former student ripping the young woman’s same-sex relationship as a “sin” and “not what God” had planned for her.
Hannah Kelley, of Chattanooga, shared a screenshot Saturday on Facebook of the “random message” from her former teacher at Red Bank High School whom she identified as Erika Perry.
“I was not close with Mrs. Perry in high school,” Kelley, who graduated four years ago, recalled in the post. “So this came out of nowhere. This is absolutely mind blowing and I’m absolutely baffled.”
The message from Kelley’s former teacher noted her recent one-year anniversary with her fiancé, Casey Stewart. The pair got engaged last month — years after Kelley attended the school – but Perry seemingly felt it was her place to chime in on the forthcoming same-sex marriage, Kelley said.
“I know that you want love, but woman to woman should only be a friendly love and not a sexual one,” Perry’s message read, a screenshot shows. “I realize that you may be upset with me, but true love will not sit idly by or not call out a grave sin that has taken over a loved one.”
Perry also claimed Kelley’s intention to marry Stewart is not what God had planned for her while citing the “hope” she showed as her former student.
“I pray that you use God’s love to lead you to true love and leave the temptation that you are currently in,” Perry’s unsolicited take continued. “You were a wonderfully bright student full of hope, love and truth and I will pray for true happiness for your future.”
Kelley told WRCB she immediately “felt the heat on my cheeks” upon reading Perry’s message, which led to complaints to Hamilton County Schools, the station reported.
District reps later released a statement Sunday saying they were aware of the message, which they “do not condone” as a public entity operating under the separation of church and state.
“Hamilton County Schools strives to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for all students regardless of their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs or economic background,” the statement read. “Our diversity is our strength.”
Perry has since apologized for her actions, saying in a statement that the “private message” she sent did not represent the views of her employer, WRCB reported.
“I want to take this opportunity to fully apologize to you and anyone else my message offended or hurt,” her mea culpa to Kelley read. “I’m glad to have been your teacher and continue to care about you as a person. I got into public education because I truly care for, respect and believe in the potential of all students.”
Perry now teaches math at Soddy Daisy High School in Soddy Daisy, an online directory shows.
Kelley, who now attends Chattanooga State Community College, said she posted Perry’s message to make people “aware of the kind of teacher” currently instructing young minds.
“What if this is being said to a teenager who is struggling with their own sexuality?” Kelley wrote on Facebook Monday. “I’m sorry but frankly if I heard this as a teenager, I would not be okay.”
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