VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission is under fire for hateful comments he made on Facebook against the gay and transgender community.
Commissioner LaKendrick Coburn El was appointed to the VBHRC this year, and attended his first Human Rights Commission meeting in May 2019, according to Hampton Roads Pride.
Using the name “Kenick El,” El made homophobic and transphobic comments on Facebook October 21, including that same-sex attraction “is a mental illness and should be treated as such,” that it is “an abomination to the human race” and that it will lead to the extinction of humanity, Hampton Roads Pride said.
He also claimed that the use of public restrooms by transgender people places children at risk of harm through sexual predation, according to Hampton Roads Pride.
On his Facebook page, El called these his own “personal views,” saying that they did not reflect his work as a commissioner.
In a statement, the Board of Directors of Hampton Roads Pride said that while it recognizes the right to practice beliefs and express opinions, “the fact that the Commissioner chose to publicly and repeatedly express the statements above in a manner which has the potential to incite discrimination is not without consequence.”
The statement did not request El’s resignation, but called into question El’s fitness to serve effectively on the VBHRC.
In response to El’s comments, the Board of Directors of Hampton Roads Pride requested that VBHRC do the following:
- Evaluate the vetting process for all City appointees to Boards and Commissions be conducted as soon as practicable, resulting in a public report of recommendations for any identified changes to the process.
- All appointees of City Council be required to complete inclusion and diversity training from a well-trained and well-reputed source.
- The Human Rights Commission engage with members of the LGBT and allied communities in public discussion and in alignment with the work of the HRC to “work toward mutual understanding, respect of all citizens and advocacy of human rights for all people.”
VBHRC responded with a statement saying El does not speak on behalf of the organization:
“Brother Kenick El is speaking as an individual and does not speak on behalf of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). We are a commission, appointed by and serving at the pleasure of City Council. The Human Rights Commission is a very diverse group of individuals who come together for common good and equality for all. However, each commissioner has individual beliefs, and we do not always agree.”
On Thursday, local LGBT community leaders and organizations held a joint press conference addressing El’s comments.