LITTLE ROCK More than 23,000 people have joined an online campaign calling for the firing of an Arkansas school board member who is purported to have made anti-gay remarks on his Facebook page.
The effort seeking the dismissal of Midland School District board member Clint McCance centers on posts visible on a screenshot of a page that appears to be McCance's online profile. The image is posted on a Facebook group calling for McCance's firing that had 14,300 supporters as of 11:30 a.m.
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 alleged postings that it says someone forwarded to it.
"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide," the posting reads in the screenshot. "The only way im wearin it for the 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."
No profile bearing McCance's name is publicly available on Facebook and a man who answered a phone associated with one of McCance's businesses Wednesday would not verify that he wrote the postings.
"I can't comment at this time, I've got to talk to my attorney," said the man, who hung up when asked if he was McCance.
No one answered the same number Wednesday afternoon, but the message identified it as McCance's.
Other postings shown in the same screenshot use an offensive term for homosexuals and state the writer enjoys "the fact that they often give each other aids and die" and would disown his children if they were gay.
A message left with Midland Superintendent Dean Stanley was not returned Wednesday morning. A school official said she believed he was out of the office until Friday.
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 Arkansas Department of Education condemned the remarks in a post on its own Facebook page, saying it was "dismayed to see that a school board official would post something of this insensitive nature on a public forum like Facebook."
"Because Mr. McCance is an elected official, the department has no means of dealing with him directly," the statement read. "However, the department does have staff who investigate matters of bullying in schools and we will monitor and quickly respond to any bullying of students that may occur because of this, as we have with other civil rights issues in the past."
Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign called on McCance to resign and said it had sent letters to the U.S. Department of Education, the Arkansas Department of Education and the Midland School District calling for an investigation into his conduct. The group calls itself the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization.
Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.