Only Empty Words from Winston-Salem State University After Gay Student Harassed

by HRC Staff

WASHINGTON – With no action and only an empty statement and tweets from leaders at Winston-Salem University after a gay student was the target of aggressive cyber bullying, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization continues to call on leaders of the university to take specific actions in addressing the incident and ending bullying. WSSU junior, Aaron McCorkle has been 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 online bullying was brought to the attention of school leaders, including Chancellor Donald Reaves. Only the following empty statement from Chancellor Reaves has been released and reported on in the Winston-Salem Journal, with no plan of action to protect Aaron or other LGBT students.

“We believe strongly that the educational environment is enriched by the unique attributes, perspectives and outlooks embodied in the people who make up our university family and community. Words or actions that seek to marginalize any person or group constitute unacceptable behavior and are not tolerated.”

“What Aaron McCorkle and other LGBT students need is action, not an empty statement,” said Sultan Shakir, director of the HRC Youth and Campus Engagement Program.  “Our offer of organizational support to deal with this situation stands.  We continue to call on Chancellor Reaves and other leaders at Winston-Salem University to develop a plan of action and protect all students.  When a student is attacked or bullied, a university has a responsibility to do more than make a statement and send a tweet.”

Yesterday, 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.

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