VB Human Rights Commission member to resign at the end of October

Virginia Beach

UPDATE: The Virginia Beach human rights commissioner who wrote online that homosexuality was “an abomination” and a “mental illness,” said Friday he will resign from his position after a special meeting on October 31.

On Tuesday, the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission announced on Facebook it had canceled the special meeting.

The public meeting notice did not specify the reason for the cancellation.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission is not apologizing following a series of Facebook posts that describe homosexuality as a “mental illness” and “abomination.”

Brother LaKendrick Coburn El, who was appointed by Virginia Beach City Council to the 19-person Human Rights Commission in May, wrote a series of posts on Monday that caught the attention of Hampton Roads Pride, a group that’s pro-LGBT rights.

One such post read that “Men trying to be women and women trying to be men is really confusing our children and I’m tired of seeing this nonsense promoted to our children.” Kenick El went on to write “Homosexuality is an abomination to the Human Race.”

Yet another post began with, “Homosexuality is a mental illness and should be treated as such.”

“This rhetoric is harmful, it’s hurtful, it’s very disheartening,” said Cole Werkheiser, President of Hampton Roads Pride.

The organization sent a letter to Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer on Tuesday expressing their disappointment, saying: “These statements inflict a deep betrayal of trust to the relationship between the Human Rights Commission and citizens of Virginia Beach who are members of the LGBT and allied communities.”

The commission, which was formed in 1991, cannot enact policy but advises City Council on issues related human rights in the city. Members are appointed by council for three-year terms.

While they didn’t call for Kenick El to resign, citing a persons rights to practice beliefs and express opinions, they are calling for:

  • An evaluation of 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 (HRC) 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.”

“I’d like to think if we asked a few more questions maybe we would have found out some of his views aren’t in concert with the mission of the human rights commission,” Werkheiser said.

However recently, Kenick El voted to support the end of conversion therapy in the state.

While Kenick El did not return multiple requests for comment from 10 On Your Side, he wrote on his Facebook that his views were written on his “personal page” and “express my personal views.”

“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 HRC 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. I personally do not agree with the postings and other commissioners have contacted me and they do not agree as well, but rather support and value our fellow LGBT commissioners, family members, friends and supporters.”

Sylvia Nery-Strickland,
Chair, Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission

The LGBT Life Center also issued a statement on Facebook, in which they call for the commission to remove Kenrick El from VBHRC.

“Disregard and contempt for the dignity of all humans is counter to the mission of VBHRC, and LGBT Life Center does not believe the commission, or the commissioner, can legitimately claim to respect and safeguard all Virginia Beach citizens when a vulnerable minority population is declared to be mentally ill, an abomination, and subjected to prejudicial stereotypes.”

LGBT Life center

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