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|'Homophobia, transphobia' in Atlanta School Board race|
|Written by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|Thursday, 01 December 2011 09:45|
Atlanta School Board candidate Angela Brown "wants Atlanta School children to cross-dress," opponent Byron Amos is accused of claiming in a recent campaign mailer.
Brown and Amos are competing for the District 2 seat on the Atlanta Board of Education. Brown placed first in the field of five candidates in the November election, garnering 37.95 percent of the vote. Amos placed second with 24.26 percent.
Because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two advance to the Dec. 6 runoff election.
The charge about children cross-dressing is included in a mailer with the headline, "Would you trust someone like this with your children?"
"She says she wants Atlanta School children to cross-dress! … whether it's pink hair or gender bending… I am definitely supportive," the mailer reads, appearing to quote from an interview Brown gave to Atlanta Progressive News.
Georgia Equality, the state's largest LGBT political group, did not issue an endorsement in the race but is "very disturbed by the anti-LGBT tone" in the campaign.
"I am deeply troubled by the allegations that Byron Amos is using such an offensive call to smear Angela Brown," said Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality executive director, in a press statement this morning. "Bullying in our schools is a very real problem that members of the school board should be committed to addressing.
"The gay and transgender community has been especially concerned about this issues as too many children, including children here in Georgia, have taken their own lives due to harassment and name calling based upon perceptions of sexual orientation and gender identity," he said.
"It is especially troubling to think that someone running for a position on the board of the Atlanta Public School system would use the weapons of homophobia, transphobia and slander to achieve political gain."
In the interview published Sept. 20, 2011, at Atlanta Progressive News, Brown was asked, "If a male student in a school wanted to wear a dress or skirt to school, if it was the appropriate length per the dress code, would you support that student's right to essentially cross dress?"
"I had pink hair with a long earring and a short earring, my mom allowed me to do it," Brown responded. "When it violates school policy, we have to adhere to the school policy. But whether it's pink hair or gender bending on issues of dressing, I am definitively supportive of students doing that."
Asked the same question in a Sept. 5 interview with APN, Amos replied, "As a Board Member, I'd have to look at, does your individual right affect the rights of others? How does it affect the educational day of that system?"
According to APN, Brown owns Imani Services, a non-profit consulting firm, and works for Lithonia's First African Community Development Corporation as interim executive director. She also previously served as interim director of Charis Circle, the nonprofit programming arm of Atlanta's Charis Bookstore, one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country.
Asked by APN if she identifies as queer, Brown said she is a feminist.
Amos drew controversy earlier in the campaign for his involvement as a vice president of UGK Records, a hip hop label. He appeared in videos on YouTube in which rappers used profanity and made homophobic and pro-drug comments.
The videos caused the Atlanta Federation of Teachers to withdraw its endorsement of Amos.
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