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imageA runoff campaign for a seat on the Atlanta Board of Education has taken an anti-gay turn with a direct mail effort criticizing the leading candidate for her transgender-friendly views.

Angela Brown (top photo)—a pastor, community activist and self-described feminist who has reached out to LGBT voters – topped a field of five candidates for the District 2 seat on the Board of Education on Nov. 8. But her 38 percent of the vote put her in a Dec. 6 runoff with Byron Amos, who placed second with 24 percent. Amos is a community organizer and rap music producer.

The runoff took an anti-gay turn this week with a direct mail campaign piece that attacked Brown. “Just who is Angela Brown” the brochure reads, then questions Brown’s residency – a judge ruled earlier this year that Brown does live in District 2 – and makes this claim: “She says she wants Atlanta School children to cross dress! … whether it’s pink hair or gender bending … I am definitely supportive.”

The brochure references a Sept. 20 interview with the Atlanta Progressive News in which Brown expressed support for students who want to cross-dress.

IF A MALE STUDENT IN A SCHOOL WANTED TO WEAR A DRESS OR SKIRT TO SCHOOL, IF IT WAS THE APPROPRIATE LENGTH PER THE DRESS CODE, WOULD YOU SUPPORT THAT STUDENT’S RIGHT TO ESSENTIALLY CROSS-DRESS?

I had pink hair with a long earring and a short earring, my mom allowed me to do it.  When it violates school policy, we have to adhere to the school policy.  But whether it’s pink hair or gender bending on issues of dressing, I am definitively supportive of students doing that.

imageIn a Sept. 5 interview with the media outlet, Amos (second photo) didn’t directly answer the same question.

IF A MALE STUDENT IN A SCHOOL WANTED TO WEAR A DRESS OR SKIRT TO SCHOOL, IF IT WAS THE APPROPRIATE LENGTH PER THE DRESS CODE, WOULD YOU SUPPORT THAT STUDENT’S RIGHT TO ESSENTIALLY CROSS-DRESS?

As a Board Member, I’d have to look at, does your individual right affect the rights of others?  How does it affect the educational day of that system?

Amos came under fire in September for videos posted to his Facebook page featuring scantily-clad women, profanity and references to drugs. Amos declined to remove the videos.

On Thursday, statewide LGBT rights group Georgia Equality blasted the campaign brochure and criticized Amos’ campaign. The brochure does not say who produced or paid for it.

“I am deeply troubled by the allegations that Byron Amos is using such an offensive call to smear Angela Brown,” Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality’s executive director, says in an email statement. “Bullying in our schools is a very real problem that members of the school board should be committed to addressing.

“The gay and transgender community has been especially concerned about this issue as too many children, including children here in Georgia, have taken their own lives due to harassment and name calling based upon perceptions of sexual orientation and gender identity. It is especially troubling to think that someone running for a position on the board of the Atlanta Public School system would use the weapons of homophobia, transphobia and slander to achieve political gain,” he adds.

UPDATE: Amos, in a press conference Thursday, denied that his campaign had any role in the direct mail piece.