BEAUMONT, Texas — The principal of the Beaumont Independent School District’s Taylor Career and Technology Center has cancelled the school’s Adult Cosmetology class that the center has offered for ten years rather than admit a student he perceived was gay, according to the program’s instructor.
Cequada Clark, who has headed the adult cosmetology program since 2009, said she first learned of Principal Thomas Amons’ aversion to gay men after they both attended a regional cosmetology hair competition last April.
Clark claimed that Amons told her that he never wanted to see “flamboyantly gay guys” in her program like the men he saw enrolled at other programs competing in the event.
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“I couldn’t believe it then; I kind of thought he was just venting at that time,” Clark said of what she labeled “an awkward encounter.”
The The Southeastern Texas Examiner reported that Amons — who is also a deacon at the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church — encountered prospective student, 22-year-old Kwmane Gray, on the first day of classes Monday and confronted Clark, who related that, “[Amons] told me he would rather shut down the program altogether than to have ‘riff-raff’ like that in the program.”
“The next day, he shut down the program,” she said.
In an interview, Clark said that she was terminated Thursday by Amons, who told her, “We’ve decided to let you go. We don’t need your services anymore.”
The Examiner reported that Amons had consulted with a staff attorney for the Beaumont Independent School District who informed him that he couldn’t exclude (Gray) based on his sexual orientation, but that as the principal of the school, he could decide to no longer offer the program.
Clark said that the closing of the program has affected other students, in addition to Gray, adding that enrollment has steadily increased in the program since she started in 2009, jumping from two students to eight when the call came down to close the program.
Clark also serves as a pastor of a Groves church and owner of a local salon in Beaumont, and said she is heartbroken at the thought of students not being able to utilize the much-needed program any longer.
At the very least, I’d like to see Mr. Amons apologize to that young man and to allow those already entered in the program to finish their instruction to get licensed,” Clark said, adding that the right thing to do would be to continue the program and allow Gray to enter.
“The whole thing is just mind-blowing.”
“This is like a hate crime,” Gray told the Examiner. “He never even talked to me. He just judged me. I don’t know and I don’t care (why); I just don’t want him to be over any other kids and maybe do that to them, too. He can cause a lot of trouble for students like that.”