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Republican aborts election bid after calling teen shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez a ‘skinhead lesbian’

Nick Duffy March 17, 2018
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Leslie Gibson

A Republican candidate has aborted his election campaign, after facing fury for comments about Parkland shooting survivor Emma González.

Emma González was a senior at the school in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people died and 14 were injured in a mass shooting by an extremist with a legally-bought assault rifle last month.

The teenager was the target of a shocking slur earlier this month from Leslie Gibson, a GOP candidate who had been running for a place in Maine’s House of Representatives.

The politician wrote: “There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat.”

He went on to question her status as a survivor of the shooting, claiming she was in “a different part of the school” while her classmates were being murdered.

PARKLAND, FL - FEBRUARY 25: Emma Gonzalez (L), a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and others walk to campus on February 25, 2018 in Parkland, Florida. Today, students and parents were allowed on campus for the first time since the shooting that killed 17 people on February 14. Police arrested 19-year-old former student Nikolas Cruz for the 17 murders. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Mr Gibson today dropped out of the race – after a young Democrat running to block his election raised thousands through a crowdfunding campaign off the back of his row.

The candidate said dropping out would be “the best thing for everybody.”

The Republican added: “I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high.”

In just days, Mr Gibson’s 28-year-old challenger Eryn Gilchrist had raised $160,000 to oppose his election.

Ms Gilchrist, who works at a medical device company, said she wasn’t intending to throw her hat into the ring – until she saw Mr Gibson’s inflammatory attack.

(Maine Democratic Party)

“I never thought I would run for office, and I was perfectly content with just remaining a member of the community,” Ms Gilchrist said.

But, she added, “after reading Mr Gibson’s comments I thought that the people of Greene and Sabattus deserved a representative who will respect people and try to work through their differences to make our lives better.”

She continued: “That’s what I pledge to do if I am lucky enough to be elected, and I look forward to working hard over the next several months to earn the trust and support of people throughout my community.”


Gibson apologised to Gonzalez after his tweets, saying: “I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you.

“It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you.

“I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”

González, who is bisexual and head of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, is one of several students who have spoken out on gun control in the wake of the attack.

Earlier this month the activist was honoured by Equality Florida for her work on equality and gun control.

Accepting the award, González paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the shooting, as well as the 2016 Pulse gay nightclub shooting, which at the time was the deadliest in recent US history.

She said: “I’m Emma González, President of the Gay Straight Alliance at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“The students of MSD who are here tonight along with myself would very much appreciate it if we could start out with a moment of silence for both the shooting at our school and for Pulse.”

She continued: “Just over three weeks ago, we experienced a tragedy that has been described as many things, but for now I’m going to go with ‘unnecessary’.

“We lost 14 classmates and three faculty members, and there were plenty of individuals who were injured and are still in the hospital due the havoc wreaked on Valentine’s Day in a period of six minutes.

“It’s important that we remember these individuals when we fight for gun safety and gun control as well as all other individuals affected by gun violence in America.

“The MSD students who are here tonight, are very thankful and humbled that our GSA, its sponsors, and outspoken members of the club are being honoured by Equality Florida.

“Many of the members of our GSA this year have for the first time found a place where they can be themselves freely, can experiment with names and labels and learning about a culture that is widely ignored in textbooks and curriculum.

“It is for us a combination of the oppression faced in the LGBT+ community, being students who are told to listen rather than to speak, the unsatisfyingly short periods of time in which we are allowed to be our true selves, and a million other reasons, that have contributed to us jamming our feet into the door of the media and and refusing to stand back in this time of senseless tragedy.

“Now that we know we have the power to call BS, nothing can stand in our way of using it. I am Emma González. I am a bisexual Cuban. We are people of different genders, skin colours, stories. We are members of GSA at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Tonight, we are all MSD Strong.”

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