The homophobic rhetoric was exposed by a group of Temple residents at the Killeen Independent School District School Board meeting this week.
Three Temple residents, organized by concerned Christian citizens, called on the Killeen ISD School Board to take a “neutral” stance after the group challenged a KISD Career Center Women’s History Month bulletin board that included two historic LGBTQ activists – Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera – among other winners in March of the last school year. The Temple group’s timing follows a surge in anti-LGBT sentiment in state government with Governor Greg Abbott and some state politicians calling for the removal of what Abbott calls books from school libraries “pornographic” public events featuring LGBTQ characters.
In 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified the Temple-based CCC as an anti-LGBT hate group because of its efforts to censor an LGBTQ pride month exhibit at the Temple Public Library.
Leonard Halleen, of Temple, who entered the boardroom on a motorized scooter emblazoned with a Trump sticker, told the Killeen School Board on Tuesday that homosexuality was “unnatural.”
“What really upsets me is why do we encourage, do we do unnatural acts on our children. What does nature need to have to thrive? He must replicate. Homosexuals cannot reproduce by definition, ”said Halleen before adding a homophobic insult.
Jerry Abney, 78, of Temple, another member of the group, said on Tuesday that the bulletin board in question had “been used for special interests.”
“I see this as a challenge for you, the board, because if we allow special interests to start moving their programs forward in these schools, then where does it end,” Abney said. “What I’m asking is that you develop a policy of neutrality. Hope this fixes this problem right away and stops it. If not neutrality, at least equality. If we’re looking for equality, that allows many, many special interests to come in the door. “
KISD’s mother Theresa Bonilla spoke on Tuesday about the need for an additional COVID-19 protocol, but ended her intervention with a statement on homophobic feelings against the LGBTQ community.
“I want to address the things said earlier,” Bonilla said. “I think all of our children, regardless of gender, race, sexual preferences, deserve to be included. That’s it. That’s all they want. They want to be accepted.
KISD mother Amanda Anderson, a board member for the Central Texas Pride Community, said she felt compelled to attend the board meeting after hearing CCC’s comments during KISD board meeting on October 26th.
“We have LGBTQ youth in KISD,” Anderson said. “What about the posters, clubs or LGBTQ groups that are so upset? What about the safety of our young homosexuals? “
Anderson said 32% of young gay men regularly miss school because they don’t feel safe in school.
“I come here to be the voice of my queer kids and all the queer kids in this district who may not have a voice here,” she said.
Former KISD educator and activist Irene Andrews first addressed the council on Tuesday about additional COVID-19 needs, before adding her own statement on anti-LGBTQ comments.
“I would like to end by only being able to say a few words about these people, however well-meaning they are,” Andrews said on Tuesday. “The only difference between the KKK and the CCC is that the KKK is recognized as an official hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the CCC is on their hate group watch list. The CCC is monitored due to its potential for nuisance. So as far as I’m concerned, that’s all we need to know and that’s all I’ll give the time and energy to say about them.
The Herald asked the school district on Thursday whether the Career Center Women’s History Month bulletin board violated KISD rules or regulations, as well as whether hate speech was allowed at the school board’s public forum.
KISD communications director Taina Maya did not provide a direct comment, but responded before the press deadline with 27 pages of district bylaws, including a Texas Association of School Boards document on the “Rights to freedom of expression”.