Chron Endorses a Homophobe for the HISD School Board, Again

Maybe the members of the Houston Chronicle editorial board had a change of heart. Or perhaps it's just a case of collective amnesia.

Whatever the case, as the Burnt Orange Report first noticed today, the Chron's esteemed endorsers yesterday threw their support behind a Houston ISD school board candidate the paper slammed just four years ago for distributing homophobic campaign mailers against an opponent.

The board yesterday endorsed District III Trustee Manuel Rodriguez, who's up for re-election next month. In fact the Chron even endorsed Rodriguez during his last run for the HISD board.

Well, almost.

During that 2011 race, just weeks before election and after the Chron had already endorsed him, Rodriguez sent out a mailer attacking an opponent because of his sexual orientation. The daily's editorial board even took the rare step of publicly rescinding their support for a candidate on the eve of an election and wrote this slash-and-burn un-endorsement:
A last-minute campaign flier for Rodriguez displays appalling homophobia. The flier urges recipients not just to vote for Rodriguez, but to vote against his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, because he has been endorsed by the Houston GLBT Caucus, "the South's oldest civil rights organization dedicated solely to the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights." The flier further states that Fonseca has "spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids," and winds up with a pair of bullet points noting that he's 54 years old with no children and has a male partner.

That's obvious gay-bashing, of the kind that HISD rightly prohibits on the playground. It has no place on HISD's board.


With his hateful flier, Rodriguez perpetuates the kind of stereotypes that put our kids in danger. And he implies that all right-thinking people agree with him - an insult to his constituents, and precisely the kind of blithe, old-school homophobia that makes school hallways so treacherous.

Members of the school board are supposed to be role models, not bullies. They're supposed to support civil rights, not fight against them. They're supposed to fight hate speech, not commit it.

Rodriguez ultimately apologized for the flier...after he won his election by a mere 24 votes. As for what changed the hearts and minds over at the Chron leading to this year's endorsement, it doesn't appear to have been Rodriguez's performance as an actual HISD trustee. After noting Rodriguez's “aloof style and lack of consistent physical presence in District III,” the Chron offered only this faint bit of praise in its lukewarm endorsement:
“Rodriguez's challengers, Ramiro Fonseca and Jose Leal, bring a refreshing passion to the race. Still, Rodriguez appears more knowledgeable on the issues and better able than his opponents to respond to the challenges that HISD is facing at this time. Our advice to Rodriguez: Don't take this position for granted. Our advice to the challengers: Participate in district issues and run again.” 
Our advice to the Chron: read your own editorials.