Mike Schwarzott is taking on the difficult task of a write-in campaign for Charleston County School Board. Schwarzott is hoping to fill an open seat to represent North Charleston — though board members are elected countywide. Cindy Bohn Coats is running unopposed for the seat on Tuesday's ballot.
Schwarzott is an active member of the Alliance for Full Acceptance, a local nonprofit advocates on gay issue, including an annual media campaign and ongoing meetings, workshops, and forums. He's likely best recognized as a tireless volunteer and organizer for AFFA's shoebox drive for active military.
If elected, Schwarzott hopes to be an advocate for students harassed or buillied and to provide a voice for diversity and equality in the school system.
"Equality also means schools that are fit to teach and learn in, offer fair minded education, neither endorsing nor opposing any group or thoughts in lesson plans," Schwarzott posted recently in a letter to supporters and friends on Facebook.
He supports charter schools and opposes private school vouchers. He'll support the 1 cent sales tax increase to pay for the district's capital project, seeing it as a better option than a property tax increase.
Schwarzott has builta Facebook page with his biography and info on the campaign.
The Alliance for Full Acceptance, a nonprofit that advocates for gay rights and leads educational programs on the issues facing gays and lesbians, has launched its annual billboard campaign with a seemingly unrelated simple question, Did you choose to be tall?
The billboard on Interstate 26 is the first of three that ask questions about things you have no control over. The ads were based on the notion that the broader debate over gay rights often focuses on whether it's a choice, says AFFA Executive Director Warren Redman-Gress.
"We would never think about discriminating against people who are tall — unless they are tall and GLBT," he says.
The billboard campaign will be paired with TV and radio spots beginning next month. For more info, visit affa-sc.org/tall
The Alliance for Full Acceptance, We Are Family, and the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue are hosting a candlelight vigil tonight to remember young people who have killed themselves over harassment or their own personal struggles with their sexuality. Communities around the country are holding similar vigils, including one in the Upstate and another at the Statehouse in Columbia.
Local speakers include representatives from the Charleston County School District, the Medical University of South Carolina, and several young people who have been bullied or intervened in a situation where another student was being harassed. The evening will end with a candle lighting ceremony to remember teens who have recently committed suicide.
Also this week, the exhibit Sean's Last Wish is on display at the College of Charleston's Stern Center. In 2007, Sean Kennedy was assaulted and killed in a Greenville parking lot after his assailant called him a faggot. Sean's mother, Elke Kennedy, started the organization Sean's Last Wish to call attention to South Carolina's lack of hate crimes protections. Elke will be speaking at 7 p.m. Thursday night in the Stern Center Ballroom.
At tonight's debate in Spartanburg, a gay online viewer asked a question about protecting gay students from bullying and promoting acceptance of gay rights.
GOP candidate Nikki Haley quickly dismissed the bullying question, saying it had been addressed and she would protect anyone regardless of race, gender, "or anything else." But be sure to know she believes marriage is between a man and a woman.
Democrat Vincent Sheheen started off on the same foot, declaring, "I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman."
But he spent the rest of his time bringing the issue back to bullying and his support for students, relating it to his own children. It's worth reading:
But I also think that violence against anyone is completely unacceptable. And I think that if a child, regardless of the reason why, is the subject of bullying, we ought to take action. Because every child is God's creature in this world. I love my children, I'm proud of my children. And whatever problems my children might have, whatever blessings my children may have, whatever my children may go through in life, I'll be there to support them. And I think we need to have that same approach to children throughout this state. And I will.
Out humorist David Sedaris will be reading at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Tuesday night.
We had a write-up last week on his new book, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk.
I also wanted to note my interview with the author back in 2007 before his last Charleston stop. As you can tell, he was already a fan of the Holy City.
His digs in Charleston get high praise, as does the city itself. He's got fond memories of his past visits, even recalling an unusual landmark — the Kickin' Chicken.
"It's really something I look forward to," he says (of visiting the city, not necessarily the Chicken). "I like how Charleston looks different from other places. Most cities in America look alike now. If someone sat you down in Charleston, I think you could say, 'Wait a minute, I'm in Charleston.' If someone sat you down in most places, you wouldn't know."
My partner and I went to the reading and stayed after to have him sign a copy of his book, Me Talk Pretty One Day. He looked at me and my partner and playfully said, "Greg, I didn't realize during our phone conversation that you were homosexual."
He wrote: "To Greg and Shane, 2 cheerful homosexuals in South Carolina."