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State Superintendent who opposes ‘porn’ in schools challenged students to predict 'Game of Thrones'

Now State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters (far right) in 2017 when he was a history teacher at McAlester High School.
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Now State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters (far right) in 2017 when he was a history teacher at McAlester High School.

Old social media posts written by State Superintendent Ryan Walters have surfaced.

The now deleted Tweets published on X are from the controversial official’s years as a history teacher at McAlester High School. The bulk now archived online were posted between 2019 and 2020.

According to the posts, Walters encouraged discussion about HBO’s "Game of Thrones," a show known for its sexual content.

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that rates shows based on whether or not they’re suitable for children, describes "Game of Thrones" as an epic series that “frequently depicts gory, brutal battles and graphic acts of violence (including against children and women), as well as lots of nudity and sexual acts, including incest, orgies, and sexual violence against multiple female characters.”

Maria Fassino studied with Walters during her 2018-2019 sophomore year when she was about 15 years old. She told Public Radio Tulsa while Walters didn’t discuss the show during class, he would catch up with students about it before or after instruction and even ran a poll where students guessed which characters might survive.

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Fassino participated in the predictions and wrote on her paper that Tyrion Lannister, a character in the show, was the “god of tits and wine.”

Maria Fassino's GoT prediction sheet
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Maria Fassino's GoT prediction sheet

“He did foster that type of environment where making such comments like that were kind of like decently okay enough, and I didn’t mind turning that paper into him and letting him see that,” said Fassino.

The posts have again raised discussion about Walters’ transformation since becoming Oklahoma’s top education official. These days, Walters is known for pushing to keep even respected novels like "The Kite Runner" out of schools because they deal with sexual themes.

Former student Raksha Tabada said she no longer recognizes Walters, who she characterized as open-minded and appreciative of different views in his prior teaching role.

“The past few years, I feel like his attitude and his beliefs have completely changed. I don’t think anyone could’ve seen it coming,” said Tabada.

Tabada confirmed that Walters discussed "Game of Thrones" with a “handful of students” in her 2018-2019 class "a few times." She said the conversations never got too racy, but that it’s impossible to separate the show from its adult themes.

“There’s no way to avoid that. It’s what it’s known for. It’s a very explicit show.”

Tabada speculated that, similar to a "Game of Thrones" character, Walters is ultimately in pursuit of greater influence. She said she has learned at least one enduring lesson from him.

“Wanting power, in a sense, and wanting this new status, is so dangerous,” said Tabada.

Walters didn’t respond to a request for comment about his old posts.

Before joining Public Radio Tulsa, Elizabeth Caldwell was a freelance reporter and a teacher. She holds a master's from Hollins University. Her audio work has appeared at KCRW, CBC's The World This Weekend, and The Missouri Review. She is a south Florida native.