Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

State

Conservatives launch transphobic campaign against employee at Space Camp in Huntsville

Several Alabama politicians made social media posts targeting a transgender woman working at Space Camp in Huntsville.

A view of the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama just after sunset. STOCK
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Conservative politicians and parents have begun a transphobic campaign targeting an employee at Space Camp in Huntsville simply for being transgender.

Several Alabama politicians including Representatives Dale Strong, Gary Palmer and Robert Aderholt, and Sen. Tommy Tuberville, made social media posts targeting a transgender woman working at Space Camp. The posts claim, without evidence, that the employee and other transgender people are a danger to children. Strong went so far as to call on the Space and Rocket Center to remove the employee and conduct a safety review to consider the potential “damage” caused to children.

Clay Yarbrough, a parent who initially shared information about the employee on his Facebook page, appears to be the impetus for the posts by the lawmakers. Yarbrough said he was preparing to send his daughter to Space Camp and heard that a transgender employee worked there and had access to the girls’ dorms. After talking to Robin Soprano, the camp’s director, she confirmed that the employee was working at the camp, resulting in Yarbrough deciding not to send his daughter to the camp.

According to WAFF, the U.S. Space and Rocket Center released a statement about the post. In the statement, the Center said it had numerous standards to ensure the safety of children and a comprehensive background check is performed on prospective employees.

“The U.S. Space & Rocket Center adheres to all state and federal laws regulating hiring practices,” the statement said. “Our camp staff undergo extensive nationwide criminal background checks that include state, county, and municipal court-level information, Department of Corrections data, state sex offender registries from across the country, and multi-panel drug tests.”

Several federal anti-discrimination laws protect transgender people at work.

Several comments by Yarbrough and other commenters misgender the employee or utilize dehumanizing language such as calling the employee “it”. 

A screenshot of posts on Clay Yarbrough’s Facebook page.

Yarbrough also has a history of making transphobic and controversial posts on Facebook, including a meme in support of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protesters on August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

A post on Clay Yarbrough’s Facebook page appears to be in support of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020.

Yarbrough’s post was picked up by Libs of TikTok, a prominent anti-LGBT social media page, which disseminated the information on X, formerly known as Twitter. Libs of Tiktok, ran by Chaya Raichik, consistently targets trans and non-binary people, drag performers, and entities hosting or employing them, insinuating their existence is inherently sexual.

Several entities that Raichik has targeted on social media have received bomb threats and/or harassment, including a children’s hospital in Boston. 

Rightside Radio host and former state Sen. Phil Williams invited Yarbrough on his radio show to discuss the viral moment. Williams and Yarbrough consistently called the employee a man, and Yarbrough claimed that the employee was “hypersexual.”

Alleging the employee is hypersexual is part of an old homophobic and transphobic trope that LGBT people are inherently sexual groomers and pedophiles.

Yarbrough also said he talked to many parents who sent their kids to Space Camp and were upset because they were unaware the employee worked at the camp. However, those parents never received complaints about any misconduct by the employee, nor did their children mention it before Yarbrough’s post.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Williams also said that Republican state Rep. Mack Butler would be adding Space Camp to pending legislation, presumably his “Don’t Say Gay” bill. 

Attempts by APR to contact the employee were unsuccessful. None of the hysteria targeting this employee alleges any crime has been committed — only the “crime” of being transgender. 

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

More from APR

Legislature

GLSEN condemned the recent harassment of a Space Camp employee and “Don’t Say Gay” legislation.

Courts

Both lawsuits describe a hostile environment created by the former recreation director, and actions from the mayor and council that perpetuated the situation.

Legislature

An amendment would make it apply to all programs and activities at Space Camp.

Featured Opinion

A truly great state upholds the rights and dignity of all its citizens, including the transgender community.