April 01, 2014
HRC Calls on Winston-Salem State University to Protect Gay Student, Stop Anti-LGBT Harassment
WSSU slow to act as student is target of aggressive anti-gay cyber bullying
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization is calling on leaders at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina to act swiftly and deliberately in addressing the aggressive cyber bullying of an openly gay student. WSSU junior, Aaron McCorkle is being bullied and harassed via Twitter after opponents of his campaign for Mr. Winston-Salem State University released a photo of Aaron dressed in drag. The trending Twitter topic, "Gay & Crossdressing Mr. WSSU Candidate Causing Major Controversy" has elicited numerous biased and bigoted comments from many in the campus community. Many of the online attacks have come from a WSSU radio personality. While the university has been made aware of the online bullying, they have yet to act to stop it.
“This recent incident of hate is another sad but clear example of the need for not only concrete non-discrimination polices on college campuses, but for dialog and training for faculty, students and staff on LGBT awareness,” said Sultan Shakir, director of the HRC Youth and Campus Engagement Program. “When a student is attacked for who they are, it takes away from the primary mission of the college, educating students, by creating a space of fear, hate and intolerance. No student can thrive in that environment which is why we’re working closely with Aaron and other allies on campus. We want to support Aaron in ensuring that this issue is properly addressed and, equally as important, work to put measures in place to help prevent future incidents of hate and intolerance.”
Today, HRC sent a letter to Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Donald Reaves, offering organizational support in dealing with the recent online attacks against Aaron McCorkle. In the letter, HRC calls on the university to act swiftly and deliberately in addressing the situation, starting with issuing a clear statement to the student body that this type of conduct is unacceptable, as well as working to put measures in place to prevent future incidents of hate.
Read the full letter from Sultan Shakir, director of the HRC Youth and Campus Engagement Program here.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.