Metro Weekly

New York City Mayor Fires Adviser With History Of Anti-Gay Rhetoric

Kathlyn Barrett-Layne is the fourth minister with a history of inflammatory gay rhetoric to be appointed to the Adams' administration.

Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne – Photo: Reach Out and Touch Ministries

Mayor Eric Adams has removed a Staten Island pastor, who once equated homosexuality with pedophilia, from a key educational post, less than six hours after announcing her appointment.

On Tuesday, Adams announced Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, the head of Reach Out and Touch Ministries in Staten Island, as one of his nine picks to the Panel for Educational Policy, which serves as a governing body for the city Department of Education and approves its contracts. 

In a press release, Adams’ office described Barrett-Layne as a seasoned minister who “spends her time inspiring people with her speaking and teaching in Bible studies.”

But later the same day, following reporting by the New York Daily News outlining her history of anti-gay rhetoric, a spokesperson for the mayor announced the appointment was being rescinded, saying the administration had been unaware of Barrett-Layne’s past writings expressing anti-LGBTQ sentiments.

As reported by the Daily News, in a 2013 book, Challenging Your Disappointments, Barrett-Layne placed same-sex relationships in the same category of “sin” as pedophilia and other crimes when discussing “temptations” facing Christian leaders and their followers.

“Leaders struggle with the same temptations of drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, pedophilia, stealing, lying, envy, covetousness, and every other sin that the congregation struggle with,” she wrote. 

In that same book, Barrett-Layne raised concerns about the prevalence of homosexuality among incarcerated people, writing, “They live in the grip of fornicating homosexual lifestyles.”

In another book from 2004, When Your Mess Becomes the Message, Barrett-Layne claimed her 3-year-old daughter told her “she was a boy” after being present for a counseling session Barrett-Layne gave to a lesbian woman. She wrote that she and her husband “began to militantly and violently pray for, with, and over our daughter.”

“We prayed against every spirit that was not of God, including the spirit of homosexuality,” she wrote. “At the end of that prayer, my daughter asked me if she was a girl. When I told her yes, she happily began to sing and rejoice about being mommy and daddy’s little girl. To tell you this was one of the most frightening experiences I had with my little girl is an understatement.”

Barrett-Layne’s abrupt termination is the fourth time since taking office just three months ago that Adams has found himself mired in a controversy surrounding past comments by anti-gay ministers he has appointed to various posts within his administration.

Adams previously named Rev. Erick Salgado, an evangelical pastor from southern Brooklyn, as assistant commissioner in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, despite Salgado’s past rhetoric attacking homosexuality, his actions protesting the legalization of marriage equality, and statements he made suggesting that statues honoring gay victims killed by the Nazis were a “betrayal of the community” and “disrespectful” to those who were killed in the Holocaust.

He tapped Rev. Gilford Monrose, a pastor with a history of anti-LGBTQ views and statements, to head the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.

He also attempted to tap former City Councilmember Rev. Fernando Cabrera for the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health, but upon receiving pushback, named him a senior spiritual advisor in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.

Cabrera courted the most controversy after past comments he made praising Uganda’s passage of a law criminalizing homosexuality came to light. The original version of the bill had proposed the death penalty for those convicted of homosexuality. Cabrera also praised Uganda for not caving to U.S. economic pressure by repealing its bans on same-sex marriage and abortion, asserting that Christians should “take their rightful place” in government and use their positions to promote their personal religious views.

Cabrera, Salgado, and Monrose all remain in their current positions.

Allen Roskoff, a longtime LGBTQ rights activist who has been critical of Adams’ appointments, told the Daily News he texted the mayor to voice his displeasure with Barrett-Layne’s appointment. He said he was pleased by the mayor’s decision to rescind the appointment, but called it only a “partial victory.”

“Her replacement needs to be someone from the LGBTQ community,” he said. “We’re only halfway there.”

Prior to the withdrawal of Barrett-Layne’s appointment, former Queens Councilmember Danny Dromm, a gay man, expressed concern that, in her new position, she would get a say over what curriculum is taught in public school classrooms — an issue that has been highlighted in other states where Republicans have sought to pass laws restricting LGBTQ-related content and discussions in schools, such as Florida and Tennessee.

“That the mayor has appointed a virulent homophobe to a panel that will have direct impact on LGBTQIA+ students and staff, it’s unbelievable,” Dromm, who previously chaired the City Council’s Education Committee, said. “She’s got to go.”

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