Bill Husfelt, the Republican superintendent of schools in Bay County, recently claimed being gay was “a choice,” citing God as his reasoning. With the blowback in full force, Husfelt now claims he was “set up.”
The incident occurred at a board meeting Tuesday night. Cindy Wilker, president of the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, questioned Husfelt as to why the school district had refused to allow any LGBTQ guest speakers–something 65 other districts in Florida had allowed. Wilker had previously asked Husfelt the same question in private at a Republican fundraiser dinner. Horrified by his response, she decided to ask him again in a public forum.
During the meeting, Wilker pressed Husfelt on his views regarding LGBTQ students. She asked him, point blank, if he believed being gay or transgender is a choice. Husfelt said yes.
“What evidence do you use to support that determination?” Wilker seethed. “What book do you use to support that determination? I’m relying on the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Counseling Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American School Health Association, the Interfaith Alliance, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Education Association, and the Social Work Association of America, and on and on and on. And I’d like to know, on the other hand, who are you relying on?”
“God,” Husfelt simply replied.
Husfelt, who is currently running for re-election, went into damage control mode and granted an interview to ABC affiliate WBBM-TV. In the interview, he claimed Wilker had used him as a political pawn.
“She asked me do you believe a gay person, I can’t remember all the language, do you believe it’s a choice or are they born with it, I said that it’s a personal choice,” Husfelt contends. “This was set up as a political pawn to try to get me to say something or do something that would cause some controversy.”
Husfelt further argues his bias has no effect on how he treats students in Bay County schools. “I love all students,” he says. “It doesn’t mean that I’m anti-student because someone might be gay or something like that. I’m not. You won’t find where I’ve ever treated anyone unfairly. We have gay alliance clubs in many of the schools.”
For Wilker, Husfelt’s response doesn’t assuage her fears. “He’s had 12 years to make things better for the LGBTQ community; he hasn’t done that,” she says.
Wilker added that she intends to ask Husfelt’s reelection opponent the same question.