Last week, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) asked people to “Go Purple” to call attention to the suicides of six teenagers who were victims of homophobic bullying. In response, a myriad of high-profile figures “jumped at the opportunity” to voice their support as part of YouTube’s “It Gets Better” campaign, including 40 Broadway actors, Google, Inc., Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and President Barack Obama. Yesterday, Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent new official guidelines on school-bullying to 15,000 school districts and 5,000 colleges and universities as a message that “bullying is not acceptable” and could violate federal civil rights laws.
Despite a chorus of support, GLAAD’s anti-bullying message is falling on deaf ears in Arkansas. Specifically, the ears of Arkansas District School board member Clint McCance. In response to GLAAD’s appeal to wear purple, McCance, an elected member of the Midland school board, unleashed a tirade of anti-gay bigotry on his facebook page. In a series of posts, McCance actually encourages “fags” and “queers” to kill themselves and says that, if his kids were gay, he’d “run them off“:
McCance wrote the following message on his Facebook page: “Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”
Initially, six people “liked” McCance’s message. He also received supportive comments, though some challenged his statement. A commenter wrote, “Because hatred is always right.” That led McCance to write, “No because being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it.”[…]
“I would disown my kids they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone.”
While schools across the country are clamping down on this kind of bigotry, it is appalling that McCance, a school official, would champion this extreme level of hatred. Particularly when Arkansas enacted an anti-bullying law in 2003 to “prohibit bullying while on school property, at school-sponsored activities, and on school buses.” Not only does the law require school employees to report bullying to the principal, but it even calls on local school board to provide opportunities to “develop the knowledge and skills to prevent and respond” to acts of bullying. McCance’s comments, however, are the antithesis of knowledge.
Still, as the Daily Kos diarist Michael Hendricks notes, “the man is a disgusting individual but sadly he has the freedom to say what he says. He cannot be fired. He is an elected official. Short of him resigning only the people of the community can fire him the next time he is up for re-election.” But, should efforts like the “Fire Clint McCance” facebook page raise enough awareness, Arkansans may have the last word.