Texas Trade School Principal, Outraged at Gay Student, Shuts Down Cosmetology Program
A Texas school principal has allegedly shutdown an adult cosmetology night class after briefly meeting a male student whom he perceived as gay, Southeast Texas’ Examiner reported.
The principal, Thom Campbell-Amons, also fired the program’s instructor Cequada Clark, who taught at Beaumont Independent School District’s Taylor Career and Technology Center since 2009. She said that Amons would rather eliminate the night class than allow Kwamane Gray, 22, the male student who Campbell-Amons believes is gay, to enroll.
Campbell-Amons and Gray only met for a brief moment on the first day of class on Sept. 10, 2012.
"I don’t understand this. I really don’t," Clark said. Campbell-Amons "told me he would rather shut down the program altogether than to have ’riff-raff’ like that in the program. The next day, he shut down the program."
Clark said this wasn’t the first time Amons expressed questionable behavior towards men he thought were gay.
"Earlier this year, I learned he had a problem with gay guys while we were at the hair show in April," she said. She claims that Amons told her that he does not want to see "flamboyantly gay guys" in the BSID’s program again.
"I couldn’t believe it then; I kind of thought he was just venting at that time," she said.
Clark said that when Amons, who is also a deacon at a Baptist church, first learned that a male student was entering the cosmetology class, he immediately thought he was gay (Note from this reporter: Officials from the public middle school I went to in Massachusetts, forced all male and female students to take sewing, cooking and wood shop classes.)
"He saw (Gray) come into the class, and then he came to get me out of there," she said. She added that Campbell-Amons told her that Gray was not welcomed but she still defended the student.
"I told (Campbell-Amons) if he wanted to tell that young man that, he would need to do that himself," Clark said.
The next day, Sept. 11, she added, Campbell-Amons "told me that the legal department said he couldn’t exclude him based on his sexual preference, but that as the principal of the school he could decide to no longer offer the program," she said. "He said the last day would be Thursday, Sept. 13."
Gray told the Examiner he compares the incident to a hate crime. Gray was forced out of the closet as a result of the incident.
"He never even talked to me. He just judged me," Gray said. "I don’t know and I don’t care; I just don’t want him to be over any other kids and maybe do that to them, too. He can cause a lot of trouble for students like that." He added that he has required counseling because of the episode and because of his public outing.
"I wasn’t at the point in my life to really open up about my sexuality," he said. "This is a big depression on me. He thought I was gay, and he didn’t want me around. That’s pretty tough to hear."
A Facebook group called "Southeast Texans Against BISD’s Taylor Center Principal Thomas Amons" has been created and has more than 700 members.
"We demand that Principal Amons be removed from his position, that the program be reinstated, that Cequada Clark be returned to her teaching position and that a formal apology be issued to Kwmane Gray from the school district," the group’s organizer wrote. There is also a Change.org petition that urges school officials to remove Amons for his actions and currently has more than 1,170 supporters.
BSID’s officials have defended the principal’s decision to eliminate the cosmetology program in a statement, citing financial woes.
"Due to budget restraints and no Beaumont ISD cosmetology graduates registering for the class, the Taylor Career center is no longer offering an extended courtesy evening cosmetology class for adults," the statement reads. "Campbell-Amons stressed that the high school cosmetology program at Taylor still exists. But he said the school can no longer afford to fund the part of the program serving non- BISD cosmetology program graduates."
On the other side of the coin, school officials in Florida have no problem allowing female students to take the normally male domain of wood shop.
Fox News reports that a school district is currently investigating whether a teacher violated safety producers after a female student’s hair got caught and ripped out by a wood shop machine.
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