As Conservative radio host Steve Kane said Thursday he has quit the Broward County schools' Diversity Committee after angering the gay community with comments about a children's video.
Kane, 66, worried that the We Are Family video would be a "foot in the door" for activists to promote a pro-gay agenda in the county's public schools. He said the movie, which shows Big Bird, SpongeBob SquarePants, and other characters dancing and singing, could be used to introduce gay relationships to other students.
When those comments were published this summer, members of the gay community and the Anti-Defamation League packed School Board meetings and called for his removal.
"They're kind of using me as a club to beat up on the School Board," Kane said Thursday in a telephone interview. "And I'm going to take that club out of their hands."
Kane said he sent his board sponsor, Marty Rubinstein, a letter of resignation Wednesday night. Rubinstein, who had condemned Kane's comments about the video, would not talk about the letter.
Stratton Pollitzer, a regional director for the civil rights group Equality Florida, applauded the resignation: "We've been very, very happy with the way the School Board has stood up and condemned the homophobia."
The Diversity Committee rejected the We Are Family video this year for various reasons, including a fear that it would teach students to be friendly to dangerous strangers.
Kane has been a polarizing figure on the Diversity Committee ever since Rubinstein appointed him in 2002. Kane came onto the committee as a vocal critic of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a gay tolerance organization that helped Broward teachers recognize anti-gay harassment.
A year later, he used a racial slur while debating South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo in front of about 100 students at Deerfield Beach High.
People have called for Kane's resignation in the past, but he always stayed put. This time, Kane said he would leave to end the controversy over the video and allow other committee members to continue with their work.
Board members have been pushing for changes on the Diversity Committee in the wake of the We Are Family debate. Board Chairwoman Stephanie Kraft said members would talk about changes in September or October.
Currently, committee appointees like Kane can only be removed by their board sponsor.
Kraft wants to change the rules to kick off anyone who doesn't support Broward's anti-discrimination policy.
"You put something in there that says anyone who violates this is automatically removed," Kraft said. "That wasn't done before."
© 2005 Newsday, Inc.