Alabama Republicans target transgender Space Camp employee

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Three Republican Alabama officials are expressing concern that a transgender person is employed at Space Camp, an educational program for children held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville.

One of the lawmakers is calling for the employee to be removed and for the center to “open a safety review to consider the potential harm and damages they have inadvertently caused children.”

The backlash began Saturday after Clay Yarbrough, a father who lives just outside of Huntsville in the small town of Owens Cross Roads, posted a screenshot of the LinkedIn profile and social media photos of a crew trainer at Space Camp on Facebook. Yarbrough said he had planned to send his daughter to Space Camp the following week, “but we have just found out that this freak is a team lead and a hall monitor in the girls dorms and at times could be allowed to be alone in the halls at night.” 

The state operated U.S. Space & Rocket Center
The state operated U.S. Space & Rocket Center, in Huntsville, Ala., on Jan. 8, 2019.David Goldman / AP file

Yarbrough said in the post that the director of Space Camp confirmed “this was true.” Yarbrough did not allege in his post that the employee had committed misconduct but said he wanted his post “to spread.”

Yarbrough’s post was then shared on Facebook and X by Libs of TikTok, a far-right social media account that criticizes LGBTQ teachers and allies, hospitals that provide gender-affirming care to minors and others. An NBC News investigation last month, which Libs of TikTok called a “hit piece,” found 33 instances in which people or institutions that were the subject of posts by Libs of TikTok later reported being the target of bomb threats or other violent intimidation.

Libs of TikTok alleged in its post on Xthat the Space Camp employee had a history of “inappropriate Twitter posts,” with screenshots of posts about the LGBTQ community that Libs of TikTok alleged were from the employee’s account.

The Space Camp employee declined to comment, though they did confirm they identify as transgender nonbinary and use they/them and she/her pronouns. Yarbrough did not immediately return a request for comment. 

In response to a request for comment, Chaya Raichik, who runs Libs of TikTok, shared a screenshot of a post allegedly from the parent of a Space Camp student who said the trans employee was going into the girls’ changing room, among other allegations. Libs of TikTok didn’t share the name of the parent, and NBC News could not independently verify the accusations.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center — which serves as an official NASA visitor center and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution — did not return a request for comment, but said in a statement to WAFF 48 News, a local TV station in Huntsville, that it is “aware of rumors circulating on social media about a Space Camp employee.”

“We would like to assure parents, teachers, and the public that the safety and security of Space Camp students is our number one priority,” the center said in its statement. “Any allegations of misconduct are taken very seriously. We are working to determine the facts in this case, after which we will take appropriate action.”

The center added that camp staffers undergo extensive nationwide criminal background checks, are not allowed behind closed doors alone with students, and are not allowed to discuss religious topics or politics, among other issues. 

On Tuesday, Rep. Dale Strong, an Alabama Republican who represents Huntsville, posted a statement on s

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Author : usa-news

Publish date : 2024-03-15 02:47:06

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