Little Rock, Ark. (AP) - More than two dozen protesters rallied outside of a high school Thursday to call for the resignation of a school board member who posted on Facebook that he thinks gay youths should kill themselves.
Among the more than 30 gay rights supporters who gathered outside of Midland High School in Pleasant Plains were Midland alumni, members of a University of Central Arkansas gay and lesbian group, and others who had driven in from Little Rock and Fayetteville in the state's northwest corner, according to Little Rock television station KTHV.
They were calling for the resignation of board member Clint McCance, who in a Facebook posting scoffed at a campaign asking supporters to wear purple Oct. 20 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 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."
In a follow-up response to Facebook users who criticized his comments, McCance wrote that he liked that gay people "can't procreate (and) I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die."
Counter-demonstrators also showed up outside the school and waived Bibles and flags in support of McCance.
McCance did not immediately respond to a phone message left Thursday at his carpet cleaning business, and there was no answer at a number listed for his home.
Several gay rights groups have condemned the Facebook posting, including the Human Rights Campaign, which launched its own Facebook page calling for McCance's resignation. More than 55,000 users clicked they "liked" the page, showing their support.
The group also said it had bought a full-page Friday ad calling for McCance's ouster in the Batesville Guard, the area's daily newspaper.
Jowharah Sanders, founder and executive director of the anti-bullying group National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment, issued a news release calling on McCance to step down.
"We tell (victims of bullying) to hold on because things will get better" Sanders said. "How can we promise them that things are going to get better when the very ones we entrust our children to publicly wish them dead?"
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said in a news release that it had faxed a letter to McCance at the school district's office.
"Your comments ... are offensive, insensitive and potentially dangerous," the group's executive director, Robert Gebbia, said in the letter. Gebbia warned that such comments could lead to "suicide contagion or copycatting" by gay youths.
The Midland district disavowed McCance's sentiments in a statement Wednesday, and Superintendent Dean Stanley echoed those sentiments in a letter Thursday to 1998 Midland graduate R. Anthony Turner, who wrote the school board a letter calling attention to McCance's Facebook posting.
Stanley's letter to Turner said McCance "does not represent the board or speak for the board when he posts on his Facebook page."
"Every student life is equally valuable without regard to race, sex, or sexual orientation, religious belief or affiliation," Stanley wrote. "Everyone really is someone special and deserves to be treated with care and respect."