An LGBTQ-affirming charter school in Alabama claims it’s had to increase campus security after a Republican gubernatorial candidate attacked the school for “exploiting” the youth who attend the school.
Tim James, who is challenging incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey in the GOP primary, criticized Ivey for allowing the Birmingham-based charter school of about 240 students — believed to be the only explicitly LGBTQ-affirming charter school in the southeastern United States — to receive taxpayer dollars, reports Salon.
“Now here in Alabama, we charted the first transgender school in the South using millions of your tax dollars. The faculty put on a drag show for children,” James says in a 30-second spot now airing on television that shows the faces of students and teachers at the school. “That’s not education. That’s exploitation.”
While the charter school, now in its first year, is open to all students — not just LGBTQ youth — looking for a refuge from bullying, James has accused the faculty of “abuse” for exposing children to LGBTQ-related issues, for holding the drag show, and for allowing children to explore issues of identity, which he referred to as “perversion.”
James has promised that, if elected, he would defund the charter school and shut it down. While Ivey has already signed several anti-transgender or anti-LGBTQ bills into law — including a ban on transgender athletes competing on sports teams that align with their gender identity, a law prohibiting trans youth from accessing gender-affirming health care, and a law that prohibits LGBTQ-related discussions in schools — James is hoping that capitalizing on the school’s existence will endear him to social conservatives who invariably will determine who the next governor of the heavily Republican state will be.
According to a New Gray TV/Alabama Daily News poll, 46.1% of Republican primary voters in Alabama would prefer Ivey, while James came in second, with only 12.4% of primary voters selecting him as a first choice. That result would trigger a runoff election, as a candidate must win more than 50 percent of the vote to secure their preferred party’s nomination. If Ivey continues to hold a similar lead, James’ best chance is to blame the incumbent for not shutting down Magic City Acceptance Academy, in the hope of forcing her into a runoff election where he can challenge her on a one-to-one basis.
But school officials at Magic City Acceptance Academy say James’ rhetoric has already placed a target on the school’s back and is “scaring the hell out of our kids,” according to principal Michael Wilson. Wilson says the school has had to partner with a local wellness center to provide counseling for some of the students.
“The Tim James ad is nothing short of an adult bullying children,” Wilson, said. “It’s causing more anxiety. You are talking about kids who are four times more likely than their straight counterparts with suicide ideation.”
The first week that James’ ad ran, Wilson told the Birmingham-based CBS affiliate WIAT that someone drove by the school and yelled slurs at students standing outside. In another incident, a woman attempted to film some of the students without their permission before being stopped by staff.
Wilson said that some of the students pictured in the ad are angry that they are being used as campaign fodder. He said a parent of one of the students pictured in the commercial sent the James campaign a cease-and-desist letter. The campaign then edited the photo to exclude only the child in question, while leaving others visible.
The James campaign claims they never received a letter, only an email from a parent angry about their child’s inclusion int the commercial, and “obscured the student from the ad” in response. But the campaign also slammed the complaining parent, saying that if she were “truly concerned about her child, she would remove her from the Magic City Acceptance Academy, period.”
Alabama Democratic Party Vice Chair Patricia Todd, a former state representative who was the first out LGBTQ person elected to the Alabama Legislature, called James’ ad “extremely dangerous to youth,” adding: “If anything happens, such as a hate crime to those kids, that will be on [James’] hands.”
Wilson told WIAT that, regardless of the machinations of politicians, the school would stand by its mission to serve as a place for students who have been marginalized or bullied in traditional schools.
“We’re an educational space for all students,” he said. “We’re built on pillars of trauma-informed care because most of our kids have faced marginalization of some kind — because they’re LGBTQ, because of color, because of the level of poverty… We’re the space where we hopefully break down barriers so that kids can continue to learn and continue to grow and eventually become the adults that they want to be.”
By Joseph Reberkenny on June 10, 2022
The U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Parris Island, South Carolina, has doubled down on supporting the LGBTQ community after homophobic comments were made under a Facebook post recognizing and honoring the contributions of LGBTQ members of the Marine Corps.
The Facebook post was uploaded on the first day of Pride Month and shows an image of a helmet with six rainbow-colored bullets with the words “Proud to serve” written on the side. The caption under the post recognized June as Pride Month, praised the contributions of LGBTQ service members and pledged to foster “an environment free from discrimination, and defend the values of treating all equally, with dignity and respect” within the Marine Corps.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed said she will not march in next month's Pride parade as long as organizers continue to bar law enforcement officers from wearing their uniforms while marching in the parade.
Parade organizers have advised LGBTQ officers who wish to march in the parade, which is scheduled for June 26, that they will be allowed to march in T-shirts with their law enforcement agency's logo, but not their professional uniforms with a badge.
Some officers in the San Francisco Police Officers' Pride Alliance balked at the idea, arguing that the uniform ban forces them to "closet" part of their identity in order to gain acceptance from the wider community -- which is at odds with the concept of being an "out" and proud LGBTQ person.
Local police and prosecutors have launched a hate crime investigation after several members of the right-wing group the Proud Boys barged into and disrupted a Drag Queen Story Hour event at a library I'm San Lorenzo, California.
Police say the event, which features drag queens reading books to children, was taking place at the San Lorenzo Library on Saturday afternoon when a group of five to 10 men stormed into the library. The men began hurling homophobic and transphobic insults at attendees, including drag performer Panda Dulce.
Dulce, one of the co-founders of the Drag Queen Story Hour program, said the men marched into the area of the library where the event was being held, making "white power" gestures with their hands and using their phone cameras to record confrontations with parents whose children were in attendance.
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