A member of a northern Arkansas school board, commenting on a campaign to get people to wear purple to show support for bullied gay and lesbian youth, purportedly posted on Facebook that the only way he would wear purple is "if they all commit suicide."
The Arkansas Department of Education on Wednesday condemned the alleged posting by Midland School Board member Clint McCance.
The Advocate, a magazine that reports about gay issues, first reported about the posting on its website. The Facebook page has been disabled, but The Advocate posted a screen grab of the purported postings that it says someone forwarded to it.
McCance's alleged posting was in response to a Facebook campaign that asked supporters to wear purple last Wednesday to show solidarity after several gay and lesbian youths killed themselves, reportedly because of bullying.
"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves," McCance allegedly wrote. "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 thereselves because of their sin."
McCance didn't respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday left at his office, and his cell phone voicemail box was full and not accepting new messages. He told the Arkansas Times that the issue had been "blown out of proportion" but declined further comment. Officials at the Midland School District said Superintendent Dean Stanley was out of the office and not available for comment.
In a statement, the Midland School District distanced itself from McCance's comments and said the school does not "support or condone" what was written on the Facebook page.
"Mr. McCance was not acting as an agent of the school board, but as a private citizen when this comment was posted. This post does not reflect the thoughts of the board or administration of the Midland School District," the statement said. "The district strives to foster an environment that discourages all forms of bullying and an environment that encourages a safe and productive educational climate of all of our students."
The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group, said it plans to buy two full-page ads in local newspapers Friday urging McCance to resign.
A Facebook group, "Fire Clint McCance," had more than 23,000 members by Wednesday afternoon.
The state Education Department said in a statement Wednesday that it had no jurisdiction over elected school officials but that it would investigate any reports of bullying that arise because of the incident.
"The Arkansas Department of Education strongly condemns remarks or attitudes of this kind and is dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook," the department said.
The Arkansas School Board Association also denounced the remarks.