CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — UPDATE (6:16 p.m. July 6): Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers President Nancy Vera voiced her concerns during public comment at Wednesday's county commissioner meeting.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are calling for an apology from Nueces County Sheriff JC Hooper, following a now-deleted post on Facebook.
On Monday, the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers and Costal Bend Trans Alliance delivered books promoting LGBTQIA+ stories to community members.
AFT president Dr. Nancy Vera said Sheriff Hooper posted a picture from the event to the Facebook page ‘South Texas Politics’ with the caption "wow".
“It is clear in the manner in which this post was done, and the Facebook group it was put into that it was meant to arouse negative reactions towards the event and towards our community, which it did,” said Deborah Rios, the President of the League of United Latin American Citizens Para Todos.
On Friday, the AFT hosted members from other Coastal Bend organizations for a press conference to express their disappointment with Hooper’s comment.
“Our community has always faced backlash, especially from elected officials,” said Kitana Sanchez, a co-facilitator for the Coastal Bend Trans Alliance. “But, this is the fire that ignites our community to come together and stand against people like Sheriff Hooper, against the bullying. As a Latina trans woman living in Corpus Christi, I have faced certain situations that led me to feel like I am insignificant in this city.”
“The problem with this specific case of bigotry is Mr. Hooper is not just another ignorant person on Facebook; he is an elected official in law enforcement,” said Elise Hinojosa, an officer for the Island Spectrum of Sexuality and Gender at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “His actions have echoed through the community, and made us all ask, ‘are our queer citizens safe?’”
KRIS 6 News reached out to Hooper. He said he had not heard from Vera about his post, nor was he invited to the press conference.
Hooper said he did not want to comment, but mentioned his Facebook comment only said "wow," but did not respond when asked what he meant by it or why he deleted the comment.
Vera believes Hooper meant more with his comment.
“I know somebody asked me, ‘What if he meant, ‘Wow that’s really something,’ or anything like that?’ " she said. “Please, don’t insult our intelligence, Sheriff Hooper. We know exactly what you meant, we know exactly what you said, and we’re not going to tolerate it. He didn’t even post it on his own Facebook page, he posted it on a political page — which incites anger — that particular Facebook page. If he says this in public, what must he say behind closed doors?”
Vera said Hooper’s comment alienates members of the LGBTQIA+ community in the Coastal Bend.
“He seems to forget he has employees who are LGBTQIA+. He seems to have forgotten that one in ten students in our classrooms identify as LGBTQIA+. He seems to have forgotten that the hate that he generated, along with other people, has caused great harm to our children,” she said.
Sanchez said Hooper’s comment will not deter the LGBTQIA+ community from supporting each other and promoting their message.
“I’m going to go ahead and create a future, especially for LGBTQIA+ youth, that’s safe, where they feel they can be their authentic self,” she said. “I feel that, if we are able to reach just one child, and make them feel validated, and they have chosen family there to help them, then we’ve done our job.”