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Arkansas officials condemn anti-gay comments on Facebook

By the CNN Wires Staff
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Whistleblower shocked by anti-gay rant
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Arkansas education officials condemn anti-gay posts by a school board member
  • A screen grab shows anti-gay comments on the Facebook page of Clint McCance
  • The state Education Department is "dismayed," a spokeswoman says

(CNN) -- The Arkansas Department of Education has condemned anti-gay comments made by a local school board member and posted on a social networking site.

Midland School District Vice President Clint McCance wrote on his personal Facebook page that he wanted gay people to commit suicide, according to The Advocate, a newspaper focusing on gay news. McCance used the terms "queer" and "fag" repeatedly, promised to disown his own children if they were gay, and stated that he enjoys "the fact that [gay people] often give each other AIDS and die."

A strongly worded statement signed by Dean Stanley, superintendent of the Midland School District, disavowed the remarks. "The district strives to foster an environment that discourages all forms of bullying," the statement read, "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."

A separate statement sent to CNN by Julie Thompson, director of communications for the Arkansas Department of Education, said the department is "dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook."

Video: School official: I like it when gays die
RELATED TOPICS
  • LGBT Issues
  • Education
  • Facebook Inc.
  • Bullying

Because McCance is an elected official, the department cannot deal with him directly, according to the statement. But staff will be monitoring schools to provide a quick response in case students are bullied because of McCance's comments, it said.

The posts were made, according to The Advocate, in response to a bullying awareness campaign sponsored by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The "Spirit Day" campaign aimed to foster recognition of bullying directed at gays and the effects it can have on young people through a series of events held on October 20.

One aspect of the campaign encouraged people to wear purple to honor young people who had committed suicide because of anti-gay bullying, and to show solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth who face the same pressures.

According to the screen grab at The Advocate, McCance wrote the following about the event: "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." (sic)

There is now a page on Facebook encouraging the Midland School District to fire McCance.

On Tuesday, the federal government warned that bullying and harassment in schools often includes violations of federally protected civil rights. Officials warned that school administrators who fail to properly deal with harassment risk being cited for civil rights violations. In extreme cases, such violations could lead to cuts in federal funding.

An 18-year-old Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi, committed suicide in September, after a secretly taped sexual encounter between him and another man was posted on the internet. It was the most recent in a string of suicides by gay youths that have received increased media scrutiny in the context of an anti-bullying push by advocacy groups.

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