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Jun 25, 2014

Equality NC Demands GOP Response to Pro Tem's Anti-LGBT Comments

Raleigh, N.C. – Equality NC is calling on Republican leaders House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger to clarify their positions on LGBT issues after inflammatory remarks on the House floor debate Tuesday by House Speaker Pro Tem Paul "Skip" Stam (R-Wake).

In a statement to WRAL, Equality NC executive director asked the GOP leaders "whether Rep. Stam speaks for himself or his caucus, or if they have a position more in touch with the values of our state."

Rep. Stam's comments were made during debate on an amendment proposed by Rep. Susan Fisher (D-Buncombe) that would bar discrimination based on "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" in taxpayer funded charter schools. After a brief debate on the House floor, the Amendment was eventually tabled.

During debate, Rep. Paul “Skip” Stam (R-Wake) took objection to the addition of "sexual orientation" as a protected class for students, stating that "pedophila" and "masochism" are one of 30 sexual ” orientations” he claimed exist. He also handed out information (click here and here to read) from an outdated 2000 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) on sexual paraphilias that listed a number of sexual perversions and disorders as well as homosexuality. The American Psychiatric Association has since said it erroneously listed disorders like pedophilia under the sexual orientation classification.

Stam's remarks were immediately followed by a floor rebuttal from Rep. Marcus Brandon (D-Guilford), the N.C. General Assembly's only openly-gay member, saying, "pedophilia is not a sexual orientation" and "no school should be able to deny you [because you are LGBT.]"

Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg) took to Twitter following the Wake County Republican's anti-LGBT comments, responding, "I am disgusted by Rep. Stam's hurtful and harmful words. I am also embarrassed. #ncpol #shameful #ignorance."

In a statement to WRAL, Sgro further described Stam's remarks as "a cheap political stunt."

"Sexual orientation and gender identity protections are widely supported by the mental health, business and education communities everywhere in the nation," Sgro said. "If Skip Stam wants to talk values, he needs to check back in with people from Murphy to Manteo on their desire to protect our kids. This state was built on fair access to education, and Stam is standing squarely against that."We would be happy to arrange a meeting for Rep. Stam or leadership and members of the medical, psychological and education community to help explain this vital issue," he added.

Tillis later called Stam’s comments “not helpful” through a spokesman, but did not say if he supported protecting LGBT students and teachers against discrimination.

TAKE ACTION: Demand our state leaders support protections for ALL NC students.

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