Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle dropped its endorsement of Manuel Rodriguez, Jr., the incumbent and second term candidate for the Houston Independent School District (HISD) Board of Education. Rodriguez, who recently distributed anti-LGBT campaign flyers to hundreds of district voters, attacked his political opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, for having advocated for LGBT equality, for having a “male partner,” and for other matters irrelevant to Fonseca’s candidacy.
The Chronicle, which happens to be Texas’ highest-circulated newspaper, reacted to the situation on Sunday afternoon. Although the newspaper formerly backed Rodriquez earlier in the campaign, the Chronicle publicly withdrew its endorsement in a statement to its constituents:
“Earlier this campaign season, we endorsed Manuel Rodriguez, Jr., for another term on the board of the Houston Independent School District. We now retract that endorsement in the race for HISD Position III trustee.”
With the recent passing of Texas anti-bullying legislation, Rodriguez is clearly out of touch with what is best for students of his district. All kids, including LGBT students, should feel comfortable and accepted in their school and community. If his campaign conduct is any indication of how he operates in his HISD position, he is unfit to remain an elected official.
The Chronicle’s statement continues by criticizing Rodriguez’s actions and questioning the legitimacy of such a discriminatory candidate.
“With his hateful flier, Rodriguez perpetuates the kind of stereotypes that put our kids in danger. And he implies that all right-thinking people agree with him - an insult to his constituents, and precisely the kind of blithe, old-school homophobia that makes school hallways so treacherous. Members of the school board are supposed to be role models, not bullies. They're supposed to support civil rights, not fight against them. They're supposed to fight hate speech, not commit it.”
GLAAD applauds the Houston Chronicle for not only rescinding its endorsement of Rodriguez, but also reframing the conversation around the need for protections for all students. Rodriguez’s actions do not promote an inclusive school atmosphere and have no place on the HISD Board of Education or on any other educational board, for that matter. With LGBT students in mind, the Houston Chronicle responsibly reacted to this unfortunate situation and set a commendable media standard.