A Florida school superintendent claims he was “set up” and used as “a political pawn” after he sparked controversy by saying that being gay is a choice, and citing “God” as evidence to support his opinion.
Bill Husfelt, the Republican superintendent of schools in Bay County, made the statements at a board meeting Tuesday in response to questions from Cindy Wilker, president of the LGBTQ Center of Bay County.
Wilker began her remarks during the public comments portion of the meeting by noting that Husfelt, who is seeking re-election to a fourth four-year term in August, recently keynoted an event hosted by a man with ties to racist hate groups. During the event, Husfelt reportedly said he doesn’t think systemic racism is a problem in America, although there may be “a few bad apples.”
Then, Wilker said she had asked Husfelt at another recent GOP event whether he believes being gay is a choice, and he said yes. She asked him to repeat his answer at the school board meeting.
“You did ask me that. I said yes,” Husfelt responded, according to a video from the school board meeting posted to Facebook by the LGBTQ Center.
“What evidence do you use to support that determination?” Wilker said. “What book do you use to support that determination? I’m relying on the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of School Administrators, the American Counseling Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the American School Health Association, the Interfaith Alliance, the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Social Workers, the National Education Association, and the Social Work Association of America, and on and on and on. And I’d like to know, on the other hand, who are you relying on?”
“God,” Husfelt responded.
Husfelt later told WMBB-TV: “She asked me do you believe a gay person, I can’t remember all the language, do you believe it’s a choice or are they born with it, I said that it’s a personal choice. This was set up as a political pawn to try to get me to say something or do something that would cause some controversy. … I love all students. It doesn’t mean that I’m anti-student because someone might be gay or something like that. I’m not. You won’t find where I’ve ever treated anyone unfairly. We have gay alliance clubs in many of the schools.”
Wilker told the station she plans to ask Husfelt’s opponent in the August GOP primary, Judy Vandergrift, the same question. She also noted that unlike 65 other school districts in Florida, Bay County’s has declined to participate in an LGBTQ guest speaker program.
“He’s had 12 years to make things better for the LGBTQ community; he hasn’t done that,” Wilker said of Husfelt.
Watch WMBB’s report below.