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School District Rallies Behind Superintendent Targeted by Antigay Letter

School District Rallies Behind Superintendent Targeted by Antigay Letter

Dawn Clements

Dawn Clements resigned as interim superintendent of Ben Hill County schools after a letter condemned her for being "openly gay." The community wants her back.

A school superintendent in south Georgia resigned after a homophobic letter circulated that said she shouldn’t have the position because she’s gay — but the community wants her back.

Dawn Clements had been interim superintendent of Ben Hill County schools since June and had been with the district for 22 years in various posts. But she submitted her resignation in light of a letter, released in January, “that both condemned gay people and identified her as openly gay,” Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.

The school board unanimously rejected her resignation at a meeting Saturday. Hundreds of students, parents, and others attended the meeting to show support for Clements.

“When something that hateful and mean-spirited is written about our people, we don’t like it,” local resident Beth McIntyre said, according to GPB. She said Clements, who she has known for years, was a great administrator and should keep her job.

Kenyata Thorpe, a parent in the district, also praised Clements. “We are a family, and we know she’s what’s best for the school system for children,” she told TV station WALB, adding, “We are becoming a little bit more progressive. Not as fast as I hope we would, but I think things here are changing. And they are changing for the better.”

Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham applauded the community’s reaction. “It is very heartening to see a community come out so overwhelmingly in support of someone who simply is just, by all accounts, worthy of doing a good job and should continue to be employed by the school district,” Graham told GPB.

GPB sought comment from Clements, who was apparently not at the meeting, but she did not respond. “She’s a low-key person,” McIntyre said. “She doesn’t want to be a poster child.”

Both broadcasters also reached out to the letter writer, Danny Pate, but he had no comment.

The district’s human resources director will serve as interim superintendent in the meantime.

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