Fairness WV’s statement on Del. John Mandt

CHARLESTON, West Virginia — Delegate John Mandt’s hateful and misleading remarks on social media this week harm West Virginia’s reputation and the LGBTQ people who live here.

Mandt previously resigned from his seat in the state’s House of Delegates after screenshots surfaced showing him using homophobic slurs. Now, after winning re-election in November, Mandt appears even more emboldened to continue his attacks on LGBTQ people.

Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia, released the following statement:

“Del. John Mandt continues to brazenly lie about the Fairness Act and LGBTQ people.

Public officials ought to be role models for our state and set a good example for all West Virginians. Words have power, and Del. Mandt’s words only encourage the discrimination and prejudice that LGBTQ people experience on a daily basis.

While he’s attacking LGBTQ people on social media, our state’s young people are in a crisis. Our LGBTQ youth continue to experience some of the highest rates of bullying and harassment in the entire country, and these kinds of remarks from Del. Mandt contribute to a culture that pushes too many to suicide.

Data from the CDC shows us that 30 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual high school students in West Virginia have attempted suicide in the past year. And about 14 percent have skipped school out of fear for their safety. This is the crisis we should be talking about.

Our kids deserve a fair shot in life — to live in a world free from discrimination. West Virginia needs leaders who can stand up as an example of good behavior, not leaders who consistently hurt our state’s reputation. Let’s prove hate has no home here. Let’s prove that all of our kids are worthy of love and support.

Let’s pass the Fairness Act once and for all.”

The Fairness Act is a bipartisan proposal to ensure that LGBTQ people are able to live free from discrimination. It would ensure no one is fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes, or denied service at a public place because of who they are or who they love. Similar laws are on the books in 21 other states, and 14 municipalities in West Virginia have adopted their own local fairness laws because the Legislature has yet to adopt full protections for the entire state.

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Fairness West Virginia is the statewide civil rights advocacy organization dedicated to fair treatment and civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender West Virginians. Our mission is to ensure LGBTQ people can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. We are open to everyone who believes in fundamental fairness.

Please direct questions to Jake Jarvis, communications manager, at jake@fairnesswv.org.