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Anti-gay incumbents reelected to WSFCS board

On Sunday, I started up a last-minute campaign to raise awareness on the anti-gay history and records of seven incumbents on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education. It was a last-ditch effort to get folks out to the polls and aware of some of the outrageous statements and behavior of board members Buddy Collins, Jane Goins, Victor Johnson, Donny Lambeth, Jeannie Metcalf, Marilyn Parker and Jill Tackabery.

For three years, Winston-Salem’s CHANGE (Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment) had led the effort to turn the education races from partisan to non-partisan and to raise awareness on issues like school choice and diversity.

In addition, long-time advocate Janet Joyner penned a four-page, in-depth history of these seven members’ anti-gay records. That history was published along with my Sunday-Tuesday effort to get people to “Say NO to BIGOTRY in Winston-Salem Schools.”

It was a valiant effort, yes. But it came too late for any real good. I know that. All of the WSFCS Board of Education’s incumbents were reelected yesterday. There was one positive outcome: Lori Goins Clark, incumbent Goins’ daughter, was not successful in her bid for office. Had she been elected, she would have been the eighth anti-gay member of the board. West Forsyth High grad and straight ally Mark Shields addressed that point perfectly in a May 2010 letter to the editor on Metcalf’s history and Clark’s position on bullying.

Perhaps, in the future, a more organized campaign can be mounted to finally oust these members and vote into office true defenders of education — people who will vow not only to educate our young people but also keep them safe while these youth are in their care.

Until next time… keep on keeping on.

It’s a year of anti-incumbency. All across the nation, conservatives and Tea Partiers are pushing to oust any and all incumbents who haven’t stuck to their hard-core anti-establishment, anti-immigrant, anti-working class, anti-gay, anti-[fill in the blank] agenda.

Yet, in Winston-Salem, N.C., there’s a different kind of anti-incumbent fever sweeping through the races for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education.

Here at my site, I’ve documented over-and-over, time-and-time again the outrageous anti-gay zealotry and bigotry exhibited by members of this board. As an alumnus of their district (RJRHS ’04), I know first-hand the effects of this board’s inaction. In high school, I joined with local advocates in attempting to persuade these people to do something about the rampant anti-gay harassment and bullying in their schools. Their response was nothing short of jaw-dropping: board members either treated us with silence and a cold shoulder, or others chose to make purely hateful, anti-gay comments all of which are recorded and documented by area media. Pam and her host of Blend baristas have also become attuned to not only the words, actions and beliefs of America’s religious right, but also of those in this state and in Winston-Salem.

The board of education there is overwhelmingly composed of incumbents who’ve had their seats for almost a decade or longer. In the same amount of time, local advocates’ pushes to get the board to do anything at all to protect LGBT students went no where. And, after all that time, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education was ultimately forced to protect LGBT students when the state legislature passed the School Violence Prevention Act in 2009. Yet, board members there continue to ignore real problems. They might have an inclusive policy, but that doesn’t mean its being enforced.

Longtime advocate Janet Joyner, a former five-year member of the State Department of Education’s Safe Schools Advisory Board, is circulating an in-depth history of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education’s anti-LGBT actions. The document, which you can read after the jump, is extraordinary. That any school official, elected or otherwise, would go to such amazing lengths not to protect students boggles the mind and chills to the bone.

The board of education is being reelected, finally, on non-partisan tickets. Joyner and a host of other advocates are hoping the non-partisan races will give them a chance to defeat longtime, anti-LGBT incumbents.

I encourage you click on past the jump and read Joyner’s history below. It’s a shocker, and all the proof anyone needs to vote against every incumbent on this board of education on Tuesday.


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Good news from my childhood hometown and school system: The North Carolina Senate passed a “local bill” on Monday, changing current Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education elections from partisan to non-partisan. Already passed by the House and not in need of the governor’s approval, the bill is now law. The Winston-Salem Journal has the full report.

This welcome change from partisan to non-partisan elections is a longtime coming. Starting in 2010, non-partisan elections will benefit Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school children and open the door to electing more fair-minded and LGBT-friendly candidates like Sandra Mikush, who ran unsuccessfully on a non-partisan ballot in 2006.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education has long been dominated by conservative, anti-gay Republicans. Among the most outspoken have been Buddy Collins, Donny Lambeth and Jeannie Metcalf.

In a Feb. 4, 2003 Journal article, Metcalf was quoted saying, “I think homosexuality is a sin. If they want to make fun of them, I don’t have a problem with it.”

By their very essence, non-partisan elections create an atmosphere in which more people untainted by the gotcha games of party politics have a better chance of being elected and serving their communities. If left to partisan politics, the Winston-Salem board would have surely remained as anti-gay and conservative as it has always been.

It remains to be seen whether the change to non-partisanship will bring about the much more needed change for the area’s LGBT students, who remain without fully-inclusive anti-bullying and non-discrimination protections. My guess is that non-partisan elections will bring those students closer to safety than ever before — if the General Assembly, by passing the School Violence Prevention Act, doesn’t do it for them first.