Controversial speaker on LGBT issues pulled from event at Philly charter school
"There are students of every orientation that go to that school, and what we cannot have is an environment created where students may feel unwelcome," State Rep. Jordan Harris said.
A speaker who claims that the U.S. government produces a form of marijuana that makes black men become gay was pulled from an event to be held this weekend at a Philadelphia charter school after an outcry about his message.
Wesley Muhammad was scheduled to speak Saturday at the 23rd annual International Locks Conference, whose organizers had rented out space in Universal Audenried Charter High School in Grays Ferry.
Muhammad, who has written a handful of books on topics from Islam to race, advertised his scheduled speech on social media, saying: "Homosexualization of the Black Community is one of the clearest and most egregious illustrations of the US Government's Scientific Assault on the Black Man. Join us in Philly this weekend at the Locks Conference as we document this charge."
Muhammad's ad caught the eye of State Rep. Jordan Harris (D., Phila.), whose district includes the school. He called administrators and raised concerns about Muhammad's message.
"There are students of every orientation that go to that school, and what we cannot have is an environment created where students may feel unwelcome," Harris said. "That's just unacceptable."
Devon Allen, a spokesman for Universal Cos., which runs Audenried, said school officials were not aware of Muhammad's message until they saw the ad this week. Allen said the school does not tolerate hateful or anti-LGBT rhetoric.
But ultimately the Locks Conference canceled Muhammad's speech.
It's unclear why Muhammad was initially invited to the conference, which celebrates natural hair and beauty. The conference's organizers said in a statement, in regard to Muhammad's ads promoting his talk, that "this was not the original topic agreed upon with Dr. Muhammad," but they did not elaborate on what that original topic was.
"The opinions of various speakers at the Locks Conference do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Locks Conference Organizing Committee," the statement, first released to Philadelphia Magazine, said. "Since our conference has a long track record of being a cultural and family-oriented event, and due to Dr. Muhammad's change of topic, we have uninvited Dr. Wesley Muhammad."
On his Facebook page, Muhammad said he was uninvited because his lecture subject caused controversy.
"That's unfortunate," he wrote. "Nevertheless, I continue to support the Locks Convention and pray that our people support it, and that the 23rd Annual is a success."