By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com October 27 2010 4:40 PM ET
The Arkansas school board member who advocated on Facebook for gays to kill themselves told the editor of the Arkansas Times he has yet to release a statement because he has family to consider.
Clint McCance made headlines Tuesday when The Advocate reported on his Facebook message, protesting being asked to wear purple in honor of teens who have taken their lives by saying he’d wear the color “is if they all commit suicide.”
He has yet to grant an interview, but spoke he briefly with Arkansas Times editor Max Brantley.
“He said one thing that was interesting to me,” Brantley told Thomas Roberts during an interview on MSNBC. “He said, ‘Well, I have a family to consider.’ You know, there are millions of people that have family to consider with gay kids who worry about their safety in schools, and you’ve got a school board member who doesn’t sound like he’s very concerned about it.”
On Tuesday the Arkansas Department of Education condemned his comments, but a spokeswoman said it may be impossible for him to be removed from office as a board member in the Midland school district.
“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.
But Thompson made
it clear her office condemns McCance’s Facebook comments, in which he
called gay people “fags” and “queers,” and encouraged them to kill
themselves if they didn’t get AIDS and die first.
Thompson’s office released the following statement: “The Arkansas
Department of Education strongly condemns remarks or attitudes of this
kind and are 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. The
department also has worked with the State’s Office of the Attorney
General during the month of October to provide training to counselors
across the state regarding cyberbullying, ‘sexting’ and texting, which
included a portion on how to watch for and deal with bullying of this
Midland school district officials have so far remained
silent on the issue. No one with the school district has released a
statement or spoken to the press since The Advocatebroke the story on the postings Tuesday.
believe the school district is working on a statement,” Thompson said.
“I know their superintendent is not in town right now.”
says her office has been inundated with e-mails, though mostly from out
of state: “People are pretty much horrified,” she said.