Lawsuit: Arkansas high school denied black student status as class’ sole valedictorian

On Sunday, same-sex couples began marrying in New York, the sixth state where such unions are legal. It was certainly a big step forward in the battle for LGBT equality. But it seems that every time equality takes one step forward in one place, something happens somewhere else that takes us all two steps — or three, or four — back.

The day after same-sex marriages started in New York, I found this story about a high school principal in McGeHee, Ark., who decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian of the 2011 senior class, even though a black student had a higher GPA and should have been named the class’ sole valedictorian.

(I am not trying to start a debate here about whether the LGBT civil rights movement is the same as the black civil rights movement. I am just saying that there’s a long way to go when it comes to equality for everyone.)

Kymberly Wimberly, 18, got only one B — the rest of her grades were all As — during her years at McGehee Secondary Schools, even though her class schedule had always been loaded down with honors and advanced placement classes, according to a report by Courthouse News Service. Even though, as Wimberly’s senior year drew to a close, she had the highest GPA in the class — something her school guidance counselor had already told her — Principal Darrell Thompson decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian because he didn’t want people to be upset that the school, where a majority of students are white, had a black valedictorian, according to Wimberly and her mother, Molly Bratton.

News reports, by the way, indicate that 46 percent of the student body at McGehee is black. So the white majority isn’t really a big majority at all.

—  admin

LISTEN: Gov. Beebe tells Stonewall Dems that Arkansas shouldn’t recognize their relationships


Gov. Mike Beebe became the first governor of Arkansas to address an LGBT group on Tuesday night, speaking to the Stonewall Democratic Caucus of Arkansas. Audio of Beebe’s speech is above.

Gov. Mike Beebe

On the question of relationship recognition, Beebe told the group he isn’t in favor of same-sex marriage or civil unions for Arkansas. Stonewall Arkansas President Eric McDaniel thanked the governor for his honesty.

The governor said he doesn’t believe employers should discirminatio based on sexual orientation, but he stopped short of endorsing a state law prohibiting it.

Someone also asked about a recent case of a family listing a same-sex partner in an obituary in an Arkansas newspaper. The paper removed the partner’s name before printing it. Beebe said he didn’t think a newspaper should be forced to print the name of a partner, even though obituaries in daily newspapers are paid advertisements.

It’s interesting to look at how news outlets in Arkansas treated Beebe’s speech in their headlines. The NPR affiliate referred to the governor speaking to a gay group. The more conservative newspapers touted the governor’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

—  David Taffet

Elton John’s baby is too controversial for Arkansas

UPDATE: Harps Food reports that it has uncovered Elton and his family.
RadarOnline reports that covers of US Weekly, with Elton John, husband, and their child on it, have been covered up in supermarkets in Arkansas, “to protect young shoppers.”

I’m sorry, I know a number of you are from the South, but why does this bigoted, backwards, narrow-minded behavior nearly always happen down there?


—  admin

Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor wants to keep DADT, thinks being gay is a sin

The homophobes are feeling emboldened these days.

On September 21st, two Democrats voted against ending the GOP filibuster of the Defense Authorization bill: Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln from Arkansas.

Looks like Pryor will vote with the GOPers on the filibuster again, because of DADT. He supports that law and thinks being gay is a sin. Via Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times:

You supply the adjectives for U.S. Sens. Lame Duck Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor. I’d asked them for positions on repeal of the ban on gay military service last week. Lincoln repeated the same ringing support for the concept that she’d given shortly before joining Pryor as the only two Democrats joining a filibuster against repeal. She still won’t say she’ll vote for repeal no matter what.

Pryor, who dodged my question entirely, now tells the Democrat-Gazette that he opposes repeal; that he thinks homosexuality is a sin and that he has reservations about housing gay troops with straight troops (as if this hasn’t occurred forever). He’s been fully indoctrinated by the Religious Right’s false arguments — that military chaplains won’t be able to continue to preach morally justifiable discrimination; that gays are just lying in wait to assault straight soldiers if only given the cover of open service. Pryor, at his core, is a Religious Righter, so I get it (though why he’s fiddled around in coming out until now, I don’t know). But what possible reason is there for Lincoln to be hesitant to do right, for once, without the wobble? Take a cue from Brian Muller and woman up, senator.

Brian Muller is an Arkansan who was discharged under DADT. His story was profiled in the Democrat-Gazette. That’s where Pryor expressed his views on DADT and the sin of being gay.

The Democrat-Gazette charges to view online content. So, I paid the $.99 to read the full article. Pryor is a just a right-wing bigot. Despite the thorough Pentagon report, which will be released tomorrow, “Pryor said the armed services should deliberate a bit longer before making any policy changes.” He also said he doesn’t want to be “judgmental,” although “he said he considers homosexuality a sin.”

Pryor is up for reelection in 2012, so he’s basically becoming a Republican. And, we wonder why young kids think there is something wrong with them when a Democrat in the U.S. Senate tells them they are sinners.

Mark Pryor should be ashamed. And, Blanche Lincoln should do the right thing — for a change.

If Pryor won’t vote for cloture on the Defense Authorization bill, he’s putting his homophobia above the needs of our troops and our national security. Also, that means we’ll need three Republicans to get to 60. Mark Kirk got sworn in today, so the Democratic caucus is now at 58.

H/T, Scott Wooledge.


—  admin

Clint McCance Apologizes for Anti-Gay Remarks, Resigns from Midland School Board in Arkansas

Midland School Board Member Clint McCance told Anderson Cooper that he is resigning from the school board following a firestorm of outrage over remarks he made on Facebook celebrating the suicides of teens who killed themselves after homophobic bullying.

MccanceEllen DeGeneres also spoke to Anderson about the remarks.

Said DeGeneres: "It would not be acceptable if someone used the N-word. When the civil rights movement happened, it took not just the community of blacks to make a change, but white people needed to step in and say this is unacceptable. We cannot tolerate this and treat any citizen with lesser value. And, I think, as a gay person, I would like to personally ask every heterosexual person out there who is appalled by this to – we need your help now. This is absurd and he should resign.”

I'll have clips up once available.

Protesters Call for Resignation of Clint McCance [tr]
Anderson Cooper Rips Clint McCance [tr]
Arkansas Midland School District Distances Itself [tr]
Watch: Thomas Roberts Talks to Arkansas Times Reporter [tr] 
Arkansas School Board Member Clint McCance Wants 'Fags' Dead [tr]

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Anderson Cooper blasts Arkansas School Board Member Clint McCance

Anderson Cooper wants us to know the face and name of Clint McCance — and he blasted him. Anderson is becoming quite the activist. He wants McCance to come on his show, but that won’t happen. McCance is a tough guy on Facebook, wishing death on young gay kids. But, he couldn’t stand up to AC. This is definitely worth a watch:

Via The Advocate.


—  admin

Arkansas’ Midland School District Distances Itself from Homophobic School Board Member Clint McCance

Arkansas' Midland School District posted the following statement to its website regarding the extreme homophobic remarks School Board Member Clint McCance posted to his Facebook page:

Mccance October 27, 2010
For Immediate Release:
The Midland School District, Board of Directors, administration, faculty, and staff do not support or condone the comments Mr. Clint McCance posted on his personal social networking page. Mr. McCance was not acting as an agent of the school board, but as a private citizen when this comment was posted. This post does not reflect the thoughts of the board or administration of the Midland School District.
The district strives to foster an environment that discourages all forms of bullying and an environment that encourages a safe and productive educational climate of all of our students. The district is very diligent in pursuing and addressing bullying of any variety on our campuses. 
Dean Stanley, Superintendent
Midland School District

Watch: Thomas Roberts Talks to Arkansas Times Reporter About School Board Member Clint McCance's Hate Speech [tr]
Arkansas School Board Member Clint McCance Wants 'Fags' Dead [tr]

Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Arkansas Department Of Education Condemns Anti-Gay Remarks Made By School Board Member Clint McCance

The Arkansas state Department of Education has issued a statement denouncing the anti-gay remarks made by local Independence County school board member Clint McCance, who used Facebook to celebrate the suicides of LGBT teenagers and the deaths of gay people from AIDS. The DOE’s statement does not appear in the above-linked Associate Press story other than their word “dismayed.”

The posting said to be from Midland School Board member Clint McCance came after last week’s nationwide move for people to wear purple ribbons in support of gay and lesbian youth. The posting, first reported on The Advocate’s website, said that the only way McCance would wear purple is “if they all commit suicide.” McCance couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday but told the Arkansas Times that the issue had been “blown out of proportion” and he plans to issue a statement later in the day. The Facebook page has since been disabled but a screen-grab remains on The Advocate’s website. The Human Rights Campaign has called for McCance’s resignation. The state Education Department’s statement Wednesday said it is “dismayed” over the posting.

A Little Rock-based television station is looking for McCance.

After receiving several emails alleging Midland school board member Clint McCance made disparaging remarks about gay students, Today’s THV is investigating the allegations. McCance is accused of posting on his Facebook page that several recent suicides of gay students across the U.S. were due to those students’ sin. He also allegedly made other comments bashing gays. Today’s THV has not confirmed McCance actully made the posts, but B.J. Steed is in Midland, which is just outside Batesville in Independence County, trying to contact McCance as well as other school board members. Today’s THV contacted Superintendent Dean Stanley’s office, but he is out until Friday. Midland Principal Donna Clark would only reply “no comment” to all our questions. In response to the comments on Facebook, someone set up another Facebook page calling for McCance to be removed from the board. THV’s BJ Steed will have more on this developing story on Today’s THV at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

MSNBC is reporting on the story as I type this. I’ll have video ASAP.

UPDATE: Here’s the statement from the Arkansas Department of Education.

The Arkansas Department of Education strongly condemns remarks or attitudes of this kind and is dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook. Because Mr. McCance is an elected official, the department has no means of dealing with him directly. However, the department does have staff who investigate matters of bullying in schools and we will monitor and quickly respond to any bullying of students that may occur because of this, as we have with other civil rights issues in the past.

UPDATE II: The Advocate reports that McCance may keep his job.

“In Arkansas law, the only way to recall a school board member is over a felony [committed by him or her] or absentee issues,” said Julie Johnson Thompson, the director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education in Little Rock. Thompson says McCance, as an elected official, answers to voters, not Midland school district’s superintendent. “[The Arkansas Department of Education] doesn’t have any control over his job,” Thompson pointed out.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Arkansas School Board Member Clint McCance Wants ‘Fags’ Dead


Midland School District is located about 85 miles northeast of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Midland School Board Member Clint McCance's Facebook page really speaks for itself.

Mccance Says McCance in a status update responding to last week's Spirit Day in memory of gay and lesbian youth who killed themselves over bullying:

“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. 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 therselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”

McCance's status updates were brought to the attention of HRC Backstory by R. Anthony Turner, a 1998 graduate of Midland High School.

Writes McCance in response to commenters on his page:

“No because being a fag doesnt 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.”  He further writes, “I would disown my kids if 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.”

The Advocate made attempts to contact school officials: "The superintendent of the Midland school district was unavailable and a phone call to the principal of the Midland High School was not returned. There was no response to e-mails to the superintendent and to the secretary of the Midland school board."

A Facebook page has been set up calling for McCance's removal.

See the rest of the screen shot, AFTER THE JUMP


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Arkansas Republicans Go After HIV/AIDS Prevention Using Gay Baiting Language

It never ends.  It just gets worse and worse with these clowns.  Arkansas Republicans in the state legislature have decided to go after a program designed to reduce the spread of STDs like HIV among minorities and the LGBT community, specifically by attacking a state program that promotes condom usage and HIV testing among gay black man.  What's more, they're using some pretty foul gay-baiting tactics to do so.

The charge is a simple one.  The group, a non-profit called “Brothah's and Sistah's Inc.” got k from the state to test out new methods for fighting HIV/AIDS in minority communities.  Specifically, the group set up shop in a gay club geared towards African American gay men, and handed out condoms and did HIV tests.  At issue is whether or not the group handled ,000 of the k it recieved appropriately.  Fair enough.

However, Arkansas Republicans couldn't stop there.  According to sources, three members (more on them later) went beyond this.  One wondered aloud whether or not there were enough gay black men to be concerned about the project…another took the position that people engaged in “risky behavior” (being gay) should just deal with the consequences of their actions.  Republicans are already trying to turn this into a political issue, using gay-baiting language to smear Democrats.  Check the title of a recent blog post by a prominent Arkansas Republican blogger:

State Grant for Distributing Condoms at Gay Bar Stirs Controversy in Committee

All ready, Republican trolls are trying to tie this to state senator Joyce Elliott, a candidate for Congress in Arkansas and an LGBT ally because, get this, she's the state senator of the district where the gay club was located…I shit you not.

Republicans are determined to make an issue of this.  Arkansas progressive activists plan to do the same, but not the way the Republicans are hoping…stay tuned.

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—  John Wright