Earlier this week it emerged that an Arkansas school board member had taken to Facebook to write that he would only wear purple to commemorate the lives of several young LGBT or perceived LGBT youths who committed suicide over the past few months when all the “queers” commit suicide, that “fags” are ruining lives and that if he had a gay child he would “run them off” and disown them.
The official in question, Clint McCance, vice president of Midland School District board in Little Rock, found himself at the center of a firestorm of controversy over his anti-gay tirade. Due to the nature of his position, McCance couldn’t be fired, but groups like the Human Rights Campaign had called on McCance to resign.
On Thursday, McCance appeared on Anderson Cooper 360 where he apologized for his choice of words, saying that he “went too far.” When prompted by Cooper, McCance announced that he will resign from his position on the school board, adding that he was quitting “to help my school, my community,” though he did say that he might run for a place on the board at some point in the future. McCance also remarked that he has received hate mail and death threats over the incident.
When asked how he would react if one of his own children turned out to be gay, McCance responded “time will tell” and that he didn’t know.
You can view part of the segment below, including McCance’s original Facebook comments:
This is Part 1 of the segment. You can watch the full thing here.
McCance’s Facebook profile was set to private when he made these comments, but his rant came to light after a screencapture was forwarded to the Advocate.
While McCance’s choice to resign has been welcomed, the HRC’s Joe Solmonese notes that McCance at no point apologized for the anti-gay sentiment behind his Facebook postings and that, as such, the apology is rather hollow.
From the HRC press release:
“Clint McCance’s decision to resign from the school board is a step forward for the community he represents. We are hopeful the wounds that were inflicted will soon be healed,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “What remains troubling is that Mr. McCance focused his regret on particular word choices not the animus behind those words. We hope he will take this time to reflect not only on the language he used but on what he can do to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people better.”
McCance’s word’s provoked on-campus protests at Midland High School, while Dr. Tom Kimbrell, the director of the Arkansas Department of Education, issued a statement decrying McCance’s Facebook posting:
“I strongly condemn the statements that appeared on Mr. Clint McCance’s Facebook page,” Kimbrell wrote in a statement. “These comments in no way represent the viewpoints of the thousands of dedicated public school board members, administrators, faculty, staff and students in Arkansas.”
Regardless of whether McCance’s apology is sincere, this incident highlights the need for a federal statute protecting children based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (like with other federally protected classes such as perceived religion, nationality or race), that requires public school officials to enact LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination policies or have federal funding withdrawn so as to ensure that officials with anti-LGBT bias do not jeopardize the education and welfare of LGBT students and the student body as a whole.
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