Judy Shepard, whose son was murdered for being gay, blasted Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for allegedly harassing prep school classmates he judged to be too effeminate.
“While this may seem like an innocent prank to some, it was an act of torment against a child for being different,” Shepard said. Her son Matthew was kidnapped and brutally murdered in 1998. “We expect the people we elect to be leaders in the charge against bullying so that all students are afforded the right to learn and grow in an environment free of fear. This incident calls into question whether Mitt Romney can be an advocate for the nation’s most vulnerable children.”
A Washington Post article published on Thursday described how Romney and his friends pinned down a fellow classmate, John Lauber, and cut his hair with scissors. Romney had complained that it was “wrong” for the boy, who was often teased and accused of being gay, to have such long hair.
Responding to the story, Romney said at the time he had “no idea what that individual’s sexual orientation might be.”
“I don’t recall the incident myself but I’ve seen the reports and not going argue with that,” he told Fox News host Neil Cavuto. “There’s no question that I did some stupid things in high school and, obviously, if I hurt anyone by virtue of that I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.”
According to the Washington Post, Romney also used to shout “atta girl!” at a classmate who was a closeted homosexual. Romney said he had no recollection of the event.
News of Romney’s prep school pranks came just one day after President Barack Obama endorsed same sex marriage.
“We cannot look past this incident now that Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee for president,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. “Mitt Romney’s unwillingness to understand or acknowledge the gravity of his actions and sincerely apologize is a troubling suggestion of a lack of character.”