Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez Got Away With His Anti-Gay Campaign—He Had A Lot Of Help
At Houston’s Gallegos Elementary School on Harrisburg Drive, they appreciate School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez.
We know this is true because–at least as of 2 days ago–there was a sign in front of the school that said so. You see that sign above.
In contrast to the views expressed on the sign, I am uncertain that Mr. Rodriguez is a good example for school children or for any resident of our community.
Mr. Rodriguez circulated anti-gay campaign materials in his recent successful reelection effort. Please click this link to see what Mr. Rodriguez circulated. The bottom right corner of the circular is where you will find the hate.
“Rodriguez, who is seeking re-election to the District III seat, noted in the brochure that his challenger, Ramiro Fonseca, has “spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids.” The ad also points out (Ramiro) Fonseca’s endorsement by the Houston GLBT political caucus and underlines the words “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.” Rodriguez describes himself in the flyer as a “family man” who is married to his high school sweetheart and is the father of four and the grandfather of five. The ad says Fonseca has a male partner and no children”
A website was set-up to draw attention to the issue. There was also a Facebook page.
While the people who organized the protests and set up the website are to be commended for the work they did, these protests were not able to be sustained.
This failure is an indictmant of our entire city of Houston.
If local civil rights groups and advocacy groups had spoken out, maybe the protests could have been sustained. Maybe it only matters when people in your own group are attacked.
If local political leaders had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained. Many of these officials seek the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, yet they were no place to be found when a school board member responsible for the education of children used anti-gay words.
If the Houston GLBT Political Caucus had focused on the issue, maybe the protests could have been sustained.
In a previous post on this subject I noted that news of Mr. Rodriguez’s deeds were not on the Caucus website. This is still the case.
Yet Mr. Rodriguez is still on the board and is still making decisions about our Houston schools.
There is a measure of irony in the absence of Rodriguez issue from the Houston GLBT website. The Houston GLBT Caucus endorsement questionnaire for local candidates is well-known for having very many questions and for taking a long time to complete.
Candidates for public office are expected to take hours to complete that form in the middle of a campaign, but the Caucus itself can’t take a few minutes to update a website when a school board member responsible for the education of children attacks gay folks and remains on the board.
I update this blog each day.
If the parents and all the other folks who live in Mr. Rodriguez’s district had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained.
If everyday people in Houston had spoken up, maybe the protests could have been sustained.
Instead–What has happened is that Mr. Rodriguez communicated a terrible message and got away with it just fine. If you motor on down Harrisburg Dr., you’ll know Mr. Rodriguez as nothing other than a great guy helping out school kids.
On the back of the sign at the top of this post was a reminder that Martin Luther King Day was approaching. I have no idea if the incongruity of this was considered at a place where people are supposed to be learning history.
You see this side of the sign at the bottom of this post.
The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us. You can’t wait for somebody else.
If you are a gay kid in our Houston schools— or any freedom loving young person who sees that all people are created equal—you just got a lesson from all sides of the aisle.
Regretfully, one of the most valuable things you can learn from your elders is very often how not to be like them.