A Springfield government employee who called Greene County commissioners “bigots” for not supporting an LGBTQ grant because of its possible “outreach” to kids ages 5-11 has resigned.
Aaron Schekorra, the Springfield-Greene County Health department’s public health information administrator, announced his resignation in a series of posts on X, formerly Twitter, on Thursday.
In a March 1 article, the Springfield Daily Citizen had reported on the Greene County Commission’s decision not to award American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) COVID relief funds to The GLO Center, an LGBTQ advocacy organization. The group has a program called Rainbow Kids, which its website described as a “youth outreach program for LGBTQIA+ kids aged 5-11.”
In an email the same day to two health department colleagues, recently discovered and released by an anonymous citizen activist known as “Brother Noah,” Schekorra wrote, “Also – update, the commission is just bigots.”
Schekorra did not address the “bigots” controversy in his Thursday posts, instead blaming his resignation on homophobia and the city’s alleged failure to protect him from it.
“As I’ve posted on here before, I have received significant amounts of harassment and several threats because I am a gay man working in a visible, public position,” he wrote. “Through that, I received so much support from my coworkers and supervisors at Health. The City? Not so much.
“When challenged to look at what policy changes could be made to help reduce the hostility that my team and I were facing, the City opted to do nothing.
“Yesterday, I received another threat. I filed a police report, but the lack of response in the past is one of main reasons I opted to end my time with the Health (sic). I am finished sacrificing my mental health and sense of safety for a job that didn’t value me the way I valued it. …
“What was the final straw for me was the demand that I respond to homophobia with understanding. There is not a perspective in which bigotry is acceptable. There are not circumstances in which allowing harmful language to go unchecked is the right course of action.”
Schekorra also wrote that resigning was difficult primarily because of his “fantastic” co-workers. Making the decision easier, he noted, was an apparent side-business, of which he wrote “my income from Own Your Pride has significantly surpassed the salary I made in my this job (sic). That is what enabled me to make this decision. …
“I was choosing to go to work every day and work hard to make this community a better place for everyone, despite the hardships that I was facing because of this job. That said, there are several things that no one should have to deal with.”
As noted by the Citizen, presiding Greene County Commissioner Bob Dixon had recommended, among other ARPA awards, that the GLO Center receive $10,000 – but Second District Commissioner John C. Russell objected, followed by First District Commissioner Rusty MacLachlan.
Wrote the Citizen: “The GLO Center application, Russell said, states it will host ‘semi-autonomous groups that target specific populations,’ including a group called Rainbow Kids. The GLO Center’s website describes Rainbow Kids as a ‘youth outreach program for LGBTQIA+ kids aged 5-11.’”
“I have serious concerns about allocating taxpayer money to an organization that targets kids ages 5-11,” Russell was quoted by the Citizen. “And there are other groups besides the Rainbow Kids, but if they’re going to include that in what they’re asking, I can’t support that.”
“Because that was listed, and it was in their words – ‘targeted’ – I can’t go there with that group,” MacLachlan added.
In releasing Schekorra’s email, “Brother Noah” explained in an Aug. 15 post on X that, “On 6/16 I formally requested information from the @SGCHD as it pertained to (Ozarks) ‘Pridefest.’ That request was fulfilled on 8/8. I’ll be publishing more later. One thing that caught my eye is the way health department employees use their government emails to discuss their bosses.”