by Max Brantley
Randi Romo, who helped organize a demonstration last week at the Midland School District over anti-gay Facebook remarks made by School Board member Clint McCance, says she's been notified by Superintendent Dean Stanley that the district has now received McCance's letter of resignation and he'll be officially removed from the School Board today.
UPDATE: Superintendent Stanley sent me a note to say a special school board meeting was called this morning to accept the letter of resignation and the board voted unanimously to do so. Stanley said there was no discussion.
UPDATE II: Here's a copy of his resignation letter, which was faxed to Today's THV.
Noted: The Democrat-Gazette at last commented editorially on the event today, a two-pronged piece that, while deploring his remarks, didn't name McCance but criticized CNN's Anderson Cooper for "bullying" the school board member in the TV interview in which McCance apologized and said he would resign. We can't know, but it's interesting to speculate how events might have unfolded without CNN's reporting of McCance's remarks. Or how civil rights events of the 1960s would have unfolded had not some of the perpetrators of hateful words and deeds been "bullied" by exposure and repeated questioning on television about their acts.
Romo, who heads the organization Center for Artistic Revolution, commented on the episode:
As a lesbian I live in a constant state of awareness. At any moment I may encounter an ugly remark, my property vandalized, my person assaulted. I live in this awareness because these things have happened to me, simply because I am a lesbian.
I and most lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) live in this awareness because people like Clint McCance say horrible things that help perpetuate the homophobia and the perception that it is okay to hurt those who are LGBT. Those who are or would be bullies see this as a free pass to torment others.
We were saddened to hear about the reports of threats and ugly messages left for Mr.McCance and the school superintendent and board. We at CAR do not condone nor encourage this behavior. We do not believe that this is conducive to the dialog and bridge building necessary for us to all better understand one another. However, for a moment, these individuals had an opportunity to clearly experience and if they are open to it, understand how LGBT people feel throughout their lives.
When our organization, CAR visited the Midland High School last week it was not to be confrontational, not to slander, not to hurt anyone. It was to ask for Mr. McCance's resignation. We also wanted to present a visual image of the toll that hate speech such as that exhibited by McCance takes on young lives.
We stood in the cold morning wind with placards that listed the names of the eleven gay identified teenagers who killed themselves in the month of September. These are eleven families forever devastated, eleven beautiful lives, gone. All of them at one time or another experienced the kind of hate speech exhibited by Mr. McCance.
Our organization has the only community based program in the state for LGBT and straight ally youth. We hear a constant litany of the bullying they experience. Right here in Arkansas LGBT kids are being punched, slapped, kicked, beaten, spit on, shoved down stairs, and emotionally abused. And the silence surrounding their plight is deafening.
LGBT youth face an added layer when it comes to being bullied. They are often blamed for being bullied. Most are not out to their families and so are afraid to seek help. For those who do they may encounter school personnel who either ignore it or are complicit in the bullying. So, where do they turn? Where do they find hope?
As we stood on that line, holding the names of the eleven dead youth, the opposition group began to loudly play Christian music. Many on our line knew the words by heart and sang along. We are not so different - straight and gay. We love, we hurt, we struggle, we hope, we take care of our families, we dream, we pray, we bleed and yes, we die. We are Arkansans. We are your brothers, your sisters, your parents, your grandparents, your friends, your neighbors and your co-workers.
As an officer of the school board Mr. McCance must be held to a higher standard. Had he made these remarks about any other group of youth, the response would have been just as swift and critical. It is just and appropriate that he resign his position.
Pleasant Plains, Arkansas and the country has the opportunity to grow from this unfortunate turn of events; to better learn about one another, to better live with one another in this world. We must protect ALL students in our schools. Every child has the right to go to school in a safe environment.