After calls from Clemson community, Coach Swinney bows out of anti-LGBT event

After students and alumni at Clemson University in South Carolina started a Change.org petition asking Clemson head football coach, Dabo Swinney to bow out of an upcoming anti-LGBT fundraiser, Swinney issued a statement indicating that he will indeed withdraw.

GLAAD worked with Clemson students and alumni who launched the petition - along with South Carolina Equality and the Clemson LGBTQ Task Force - to elevate the story in national and sports outlets, including USA Today, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Outsports, and others. 

Today Swinney issued the following statement:

I was recently selected by the Palmetto Family Council, an organization with which I have no association, as their 'South Carolina Family Champion of 2015' and was invited to receive this recognition at an event sponsored by the group on June 2. I had no idea that I was being invited into a political controversy. It was my understanding that the nomination and election for this award was based on the work done by our "All In Foundation" and the difference it is making in our community. My acceptance of this award was to be on behalf of all the volunteers that make our foundation a success. The work of our foundation is intended to build a better community and be a positive influence.

Recently, my scheduled participation in this event has been perceived incorrectly as an endorsement of certain viewpoints and has entered the political arena. I have been out of town since last Thursday and am disappointed that this has become a distraction for me, my team and many others. I have been and continue to be very open about my personal beliefs. However, I do not inject those beliefs or the work of the foundation into the political process.

I appreciate the recognition of my and the foundation's efforts. However, after much thought, in order to avoid a distraction for the team and the entire football program, I've decided it is in the best interests of all involved that I not attend the event on June 2.

"We are thrilled to hear of Coach Swinney’s decision to withdraw from the Palmetto Family Council event," said William Bar Ta'oma, the Clemson student who launched the petition. "While we would have preferred a repudiation of this group’s stances, we appreciate that he has chosen to avoid the controversy altogether. We trust that Coach Swinney will continue to represent and uphold the principles of inclusion that are core to Clemson University."

"Coach Swinney demonstrated the leadership for which he is known in standing for love and acceptance," said GLAAD Vice President of Zeke Stokes. "As a native South Carolinian, I couldn't be more proud of the people who stood with him for inclusion in the face of division."

Swinney was scheduled to appear at a June 2 fundraiser for the Palmetto Family Council, a notoriously anti-LGBT organization in South Carolina. According to their website, they "condemn homosexuality and other forms of sexual sin" and call homosexuality "physically, spiritually or emotionally damaging." They have pressured South Carolina schools to drop LGBT-themed books from their reading programs.

GLAAD will be in Charleston on June 15 and Columbia on June 16, premiering a mini-documentary "South Carolina: State of Change" as a part of the Southern Stories Summer Tour. RSVP for events at the Southern Stories tour page