CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – District 1 Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Member Melissa Easley says she’s never shied away from her true identity but also never shouted it from the rooftops.
That is, until the Aug. 22 school board meeting.
“Let me share an example of the hate that some community members have already shown to a transgender-fluid father and a bisexual mother who have two children in elementary school. This family does not hide the truth about themselves, but the honesty has come at an almost unbearable cost,” said Easley at that meeting. “How do I know about this family? Because this is my family.”
Easley was referring to a series of threats her family has received over the past year after she shared photos of them celebrating at Charlotte Pride 2022.
She says those threats have included emails, letters sent to her home, and even an instance in which someone filed a complaint against her and her spouse to child welfare.
“While I was campaigning, we had people, they were sitting outside the house,” she told Queen City News in a sit-down interview. “One person actually started handing my children religious flyers. And so, when they started doing that and approaching my children, I called Sheriff McFadden’s office.”
Those threats happened before she ever announced her bisexuality publicly. So, why open herself up to the possibility of more hate? She says it boiled down to one thing: Senate Bill 49, otherwise known as the Parents Bill of Rights, which was made law on Aug. 16 after state lawmakers voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto.
“My goal was to instill confidence in our students and our staff that just because these bills were passed does not mean that we are not going to continue to fight for them,” she said.
CMS was one of, if not the first, school district in the state to adopt policies in order to comply with the new state law, which limits the amount of education some students will receive about sexuality and gender identity, as well as give parents a greater say in their child’s education.
Easley says why she personally could not vote in favor of the new district policies; she understands why they had to pass.
“Here’s the thing. It is law. It’s law. And as I said [on Aug. 22], it’s wrong,” she said.
Easley says the reaction since her speech has been nothing but positive, which she wasn’t expecting, considering what happened after her 2022 Facebook post.
Regardless of any hate that may come her way, she says she has no plans to stop advocating for CMS’ LGBTQ+ community, nor stop living her authentic life.
“This is very personal to me. This is my livelihood. This is not just a crusade; this is my life,” said Easley.