Principal Thomas Amons of the Beaumont Independent School District’s (BISD) Taylor Career and Technology Center in Texas has closed an adult cosmetology program after seeing a student that Amons thought “looked gay,” according to the course’s instructor. The cosmetology program, which has existed for over 10 years, was taught by Cequada Clark, who told Texas’ newspaper The Examiner the reasons behind the program closure.

“As soon as we got a student that [Amons] thought was gay, that was the end. He saw [Kwmane Gray] come into the class, and then he came to get me out of there,” Clark said, and went on to say that Amons had instructed her to remove Gray from the course. “I told [Amons] if he wanted to tell that young man that, he would need to do that himself.”

Since it is illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation, Amons instead closed the program entirely.

“The next day [Sept. 11], [Amons] told me that the legal department said he couldn’t exclude [Gray] based on his sexual preference, but that as the principal of the school he could decide to no longer offer the program,” said Clark. “He said the last day would be Thursday, Sept. 13.”

“I don’t understand this. I really don’t,” Clark continued. “[Amons] told me he would rather shut down the program altogether than to have ‘riff-raff’ like that in the program.”

After detailing the story to The Examiner, Clark was subsequently fired, with Amons stating that “we’ve decided to let you go. We don’t need your services anymore.”

Clark has said that Amons, who is a deacon at a Baptist church, had previously expressed his antagonism towards gay men at a hair show in April, saying that he didn’t want to see any “flamboyantly gay guys” in the course. “I couldn’t believe it then; I kind of thought he was just venting at that time,” Clark said of the encounter.

After the story broke, the BISD released a press statement defending Amons’ decision to close the program, and claimed that the decision to do so was not based off of Amons’ apparent hostility towards homosexuals, but was instead caused by low attendance from Taylor Career Center program graduates.

“Due to budget restraints and no Beaumont ISD cosmetology graduates registering for the class, the Taylor Career center is no longer offering an extended courtesy evening cosmetology class for adults. Amons stressed that the high school cosmetology program at Taylor still exists. But he said the school can no longer afford to fund the part of the program serving non-BISD cosmetology program graduates.”

Clark has stated that this claim is false, and that she has enrollment documentation showing the presence of at least one Taylor Career Center graduate in the program.

A facebook group called  ”Southeast Texans Against BISD’s Taylor Center Principal Thomas Amons” organized a protest on Saturday, September 15th, in response to the allegations of bigotry against Amons, and are calling for his resignation as well as the reinstatement of the program. Another protest is scheduled for Thursday, September 20th.