Minneapolis School Board candidate Sharon El-Amin has spent the last few days under fire for a Facebook post she wrote in 2016.
The post was a paragraph long, seemingly bemoaning a long list of injustices, including legalizing the sale of marijuana only after “years of locking our men and women up,” and “modern-day slavery.”
But her grievances also included legalizing gay marriage and allowing transgender people to use “the bathroom of their choice.”
El-Amin initially posted an apology that said she was sorry if she offended anyone, and that those words were being taken out of context. But she didn’t explain why she’d brought up gay marriage and which bathrooms transgender people should be allowed to use, and in the end, the apology got almost as much criticism as the original post.
On Monday, El-Amin issued a second apology statement -- this one asking forgiveness for “previous close-minded views” and “causing any hurt, pain, or disrespect to anyone.” The following is her statement in its entirety. (Read City Pages' initial coverage here.)
Dear Community Members,
One of the things that I have learned during my short time on this Earth is that sometimes people make mistakes, and those mistakes can sometimes hurt other people. This last week has been one of the most challenging, embarrassing, and difficult experiences of my life. I made insensitive and inappropriate posts in 2016, and even before that, that were hurtful and offensive to members of our community, particularly those who identify as LGBTQIA. I have had to do a lot of soul searching and reflecting upon my thought process behind those posts and how my views have changed since then. I have also spent time in conversation with my family, community members, faith leaders, and friends who identify as LGBTQIA. During those conversations, I had the opportunity to listen to concerns and to hear firsthand how harmful and impactful my previous posts have been. I sincerely apologize for causing any hurt, pain, or disrespect to anyone. My intention does not matter. What matters is the impact of my actions towards those who identify as LGBTQIA and my previous close-minded views.
I can say with all honesty that I have been on a journey these last two years to broaden my perspective and to deepen relationships with those who identify as LGBTQIA. My work on education issues has allowed me to build and maintain relationships with people who identify as LGBTQIA or whose children identify as LGBTQIA. This has given me a more well-informed view of the needs of all students and families, and has allowed me to see the work that must be done within Minneapolis Public Schools and our society to better promote true equity and inclusion; not just in the words we speak, but in our actions. I have learned that there are mothers and fathers in the Twin Cities who have seen their children commit suicide due to struggling with issues of being gay and the bullying that has occurred within settings. As a parent of children who have experienced racial discrimination, I can empathize with the pain and trauma that occurred when a child is ostracized, excluded, teased, or bullied for being viewed as different. No child should have to feel unsafe or unprotected because of the color of their skin or their gender identity or sexual preference.
Every day, I am growing beyond a narrow frame of reference to embrace the absolute and undeniable democratic rights and needs of each citizen from all walks of life. I know that I have a lot more to learn and a lot more growing to do. I am committed to doing all I can to listen, to learn, and to direct my energy towards advocating for all of our children.