Magic City Acceptance Academy in Homewood, Ala. is beefing up security on campus after being targeted by Tim James, a Republican candidate running for governor of Alabama, in a recent campaign ad.
The academy drew James’s ire because it’s a one-of-its-kind charter school that, while open to all students, bills itself as being “LGBTQ-affirming,” according to AL.com. In his campaign ad, James called this “exploitation” of children and “not education.”
The ad, entitled “Genesis” (which features the faces of minors who attend the academy, for which reason The Advocate and other outlets are declining to include it in this coverage), contains footage of the school and a drag show fundraiser. “And now, right here in Alabama, millions of your tax dollars are paying for the first transgender public school in the South,” James said in the ad. “Enough of this foolishness.”
Michael Wilson, principal of the Magic City Acceptance Academy, has called for the removal of the ad telling Al.com it’s “scaring the hell out of our kids.” He also noted that the drag show was no different than the tradition of “powder puff” football games, in which girls play football while boys cheer from the sidelines — a tradition that happens to occur at Baylor School in Tennessee, James’ alma mater.
In response to Wilson’s call to remove the ad, James doubled down. “The principal said that the TV ad scared the children,” a statement read. “What should scare mothers and fathers of these children is what the faculty is doing by presenting this ungodly display through the drag show to which the children were subjected.”
“What he’s doing is extremely dangerous to youth,” Alabama Democratic Party vice-chair Patricia Todd (and the state legislature’s first LGBTQ+ lawmaker) said of the campaign ad. “If anything happens, such as a hate crime to those kids, that will be on his hands.”
Since the ad began running there have been incidents of harassment against the academy’s students. “We had a car drive by, and someone was shouting slurs at the kids while they were outside during PE,” Wilson said. “Another occurrence is that we had a man and a woman drive a car into the parking lot at the end of the building and the lady got out and walked toward a picnic table where the [students] were eating lunch. She was just filming. As soon as [the staff] went out there, she took off. I don’t know what their purpose was.”
James is one of nine Republican candidates looking to unseat incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey, who is currently leading in the polls by a significant margin. The Alabama primary is set for May 24. Ivey recently signed into law a bill that makes providing gender-affirming care punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She also signed another bill that is a version of Florida's "don't say gay" law.