That day, Blum reported that the Rangers have for years refused to host an LGBTQ Pride Night, and the team continues to refuse to do so in 2021.
The next day, across my Tweetdeck feed came a flood of public-facing “likes” from someone named Cody Reeves, who has since locked his Twitter account and blocked me. I had been tagged in Blum’s original tweet, so I happened to see all the responses.
Certainly, anyone can opine what they want about a Pride Night in MLB. Yet I counted the tweets at the time — It was 57 likes from Reeves in total, all liking posts that marginalized the LGBTQ community or a celebration of Pride.
The barrage of “likes” over the course of just about a half hour certainly piqued my interest.
Why would someone “like” so many anti-LGBTQ-Pride tweets in such a short period of time? Curious, I clicked on Reeves’ profile.
I learned that Reeves works with high school youth at the Seminole school district in western Texas. Not only is he a coach of athletes in football and track and field at the school, but he’s also a geography teacher.
Some of the anti-Pride tweets that coach Reeves “liked” are not kind, talking about gay people breaking laws of nature and god, likening being LGBTQ to having mental disorders and being murderers, and using other unfortunate language.
Viewer discretion is advised:
“Mental disorder”? “Murderers”? Goes against God? “Queers”? “Choices of sexual activity”? “Where’s my heterosexual month”?
All of this was on the first day of Pride Month.
When I saw the flood of “likes” come through from coach Reeves in such a short period of time, I became alarmed. Liking that number of anti-LGBTQ tweets — ranging from positions against Pride to proclamations about god and actual crimes — was shocking.
These were all very public at the time. I only noticed them because, again, I had been tagged in Blum’s original tweet about the Rangers’ Pride Night refusal.
I wasn’t going looking for these likes — They found me.
Before coach Reeves had even finished his string of “likes,” I called the Seminole school district midday on June 1. I left a message.
Very quickly the director of human resources, David Williams, called me back.
“That’s not the viewpoint of our school district at all,” Williams told me. “What someone puts on Twitter is not how the school district feels about something.”
I told him I appreciated that, yet coach Reeves had in fact “liked” a long string of anti-LGBTQ tweets. Reeves liked 57 of them, in fact. That’s a lot of likes that certainly seems to reveal a pattern.
Williams told me that every year the school-district staff has a long discussion with their teachers and coaches about how social media matters, and I’d be hearing from Superintendent Kyle Lynch, who was dealing with a personal matter at the time, in the next 24 hours.
That was June 1. Since then I have received no phone call, email or text message.
Over the last two weeks I have called the school and school district at least 14 times, leaving multiple messages, either on voicemail or with secretaries. I have also sent five emails to the school principal and coach Reeves, among other school staff.
None of my efforts have been answered.
As I told Williams the one time I spoke with him, my main question has been this: Reeves seems to have an affection for messages painting LGBTQ people as against God’s will and saying they have a mental disorder. How will the school district ensure that these perspectives do not seep into his classroom or locker room?
It’s an important question to be answered, and it’s why this is of public interest.
“For a lot of high school athletes, the coach, besides your parents, is the person you look up to most as a mentor,” former NFL player Ryan O’Callaghan told me. O’Callaghan has talked openly about the suicidal thoughts that being gay brought him throughout his playing career. “If I were a closeted player, and I knew my coach had those viewpoints, I would feel extremely unwelcome.
“I don’t know how this coach would be able to separate such feelings toward the gay community online and not have it flow into the locker room or the classroom. I understand he has a freedom of speech, but he’s a mentor. He needs to do better.”
Anthony Nicodemo, an openly gay high school basketball coach and athletic director, said any coach or administrator vested in the welfare of their students should be alarmed by a coach liking that many tweets of that kind.
“This isn’t about taking a political stand,” Nicodemo said. “In this particular situation you’re attacking an entire class of people. You’re attacking them for who they are. Liking a tweet that likens gay people to murderers? Calling Pride Month ‘Mental Disorder Month’? That’s insane.
“The fact that the administration is staying silent when there are kids on that team who could be closeted, what about that gay kid? That’s the scary thing to me.”
Unfortunately, given the school district’s refusal to return my communications, I have not been able to get answers to any of these basic concerns.
When I tracked down the school district’s anti-discrimination policy online, I found that it specifically lists race, religion, age and veteran status as protected. Yet it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. The State of Texas offers no further protection for LGBTQ students that I could find.
I also found Reeves’ own class page, which talks about how to succeed in his classroom. A key takeaway:
“RESPECT is required!!”
The all-caps and exclamation points are there on his own page.
Reeves goes on, in his “how to survive my class” link:
Behavior that is not respectful in any way is inappropriate for the classroom and will not be tolerated.
It seems odd that Reeves would so adamantly demand respect, when he was simultaneously “liking” tweets about gay kids violating god’s will and likening them to murderers and adulterers, using “queers” as a pejorative.
Reeves also posted this about succeeding in his classroom:
Refrain from calling names that are derogatory. If someone takes offense to teasing, it is not respectful.
It certainly didn’t seem to me that Reeves was living up to his own standards in the classroom, let alone the track and field and football teams he coaches.
In order to protect LGBTQ youth in the school district from harmful anti-LGBTQ attitudes, I’d hoped a conversation with Reeves and school administrators would have been possible. Yet these men at the school have decided to ignore my requests for a conversation.
I simply want to make sure the LGBTQ students and teachers around coach Reeves are protected from these incredibly harsh anti-LGBTQ attitudes. Yet my outreach has been met with silence.
The public has a right to know about this. An open conversation is in the public interest.
Hopefully the parents and community in and around Seminole, Texas, can get more constructive answers.
In the meantime, to the LGBTQ kids on Reeves’ track or football team, or geography class, who may have seen their coach and teacher “like” these anti-LGBTQ messages, you have many people who love and support you, and eventually life does get better.
If you are LGBTQ and suffer from depression or are contemplating suicide, contact The Trevor Project hotline at 866-488-7386866-488-7386 FREE. Someone is there to help.