The principal of Texas’ Beaumont Independent School District attempted to cancel an adult education cosmetology course last week after the registration of a male student he perceived to be gay. Principal Thom Campbell-Amons also fired the course’s instructor Cequada Clark, who claimed she was told her services were no longer needed.
Clark had taught the adult cosmetology course at BISD since 2009 when only two students signed up; the program had eight students when Amons decided to shutter it following the registration of 22-year-old Kwmame Gray. Without engaging Gray, Amons assumed he was gay and informed Clark that he would rather close the program than have “riff-raff” like Gray included.
Amons had previously made his homophobia known at a hair show in April where he told Clark he never wanted to see “flamboyantly gay guys” enrolled in BISD. When he learned that he couldn’t legally exclude Gray based on his sexual orientation, but that he could cut the adult cosmetology course from the curriculum, Amons wasted no time in doing just that.
Shortly afterward, Clark was handed her walking papers.
“I take this very seriously. Most of my students coming in are single moms trying to move ahead and make a life for themselves,” Clark told The Examiner. “My thing is, I bust my tail off with this program: I give God the glory because it’s been doing good since I’ve been there. At the very least, I’d like to see Mr. Amons apologize to that young man and to allow those already entered in the program to finish their instruction to get licensed.”
The experience has been particularly tough on Gray, who wasn’t openly gay until Amons singled him out. “Right now, I can see I’m going to need counseling,” Gray said. “I wasn’t at the point in my life to really open up about my sexuality. 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.”
On Friday, BISD issued a statement that the adult cosmetology course would indeed be offered while claiming that Amons had cancelled it based on “insufficient funding” and not on Gray’s sexual orientation. Superintendent Dr. Timothy Chiagros said, “The student has confirmed with BISD officials that he did not have a conversation with Mr. Amons as some have erroneously inferred.” Although isn’t the point of the story that Amons never talked to Gray to begin with and discriminated against him at face value?
Either way, the class requires 10 students to enroll in order to proceed as originally planned — as of Friday, four students had expressed interest in the course.