School board member to quit after telling gay kids to kill themselves

Liz Goodwin
The Upshot

Clint McCance, vice president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Ark., told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Thursday night that he will resign his seat and is sorry that he wrote on his Facebook page that gay kids should kill themselves.

"I would never support suicide for any kids," McCance said. "I don't support bullying of any kids."

When his comments were made public via gay magazine the Advocate, McCance said he received "thousands of phone calls, hate mails, people threatening to kill my family and me." He claims his wife and two kids have moved out of the state temporarily to escape the harassment.

"I'm reaping what I've sown," he said. "I've had a lot of hate speech thrown at me and my family on every level."

You can watch the video below:

McCance's comments were accessible only to his Facebook friends. Someone provided the Advocate with a screenshot that showed McCance fuming over a gay rights group's Spirit Day on Oct. 20, when the group urged supporters to wear purple to raise awareness about harassment and bullying against gay youth. "The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide," he wrote.

"I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die," he said in another comment about gay people. His comments were riddled with anti-gay slurs.

McCance apologized specifically to the "five families" of LGBT youth who died by suicide in recent months, which sparked the It Gets Better campaign and other outreach efforts. "I brought more hurt on them. ... They didn't deserve that, and I do feel genuinely bad for them," he said.

Education officials in the state condemned his words but said they couldn't fire him since he's an elected official. He announced Thursday that he will resign to spare the school district "bad press," but will consider running again in the future.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan warned America's educators this week that if they do not stop bullying and harassment in schools they may face legal and financial sanctions in extreme cases. Gay teens may be protected by civil rights laws if they are being harassed for not hewing to gender conventions.

(Photo: CNN screenshot of McCance)