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State House GOP backs UNA student president in free speech, religious liberties dispute over ‘Born this way? You must be born again’ T-shirt display

Some students at the University of North Alabama are demanding UNA Student Government Association President Jake Statom resign from his position for an Instagram post that included a T-shirt with a rainbow that read, “Born this way? You must be born again.”

A Change.org petition was circulated demanding Statom’s resignation. The argument petition-backers offered was that Statom is entitled to his personal beliefs. However, as student government president, he was expected to lead in a manner that protected the interests of all UNA students.

Tuesday, State Rep. Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville) and the northwest Alabama Shoals-area delegation pushed back against efforts to “cancel” Statom with a resolution backing his “right to promote traditional morals and values on his personal social media platforms.”

“My Republican colleagues and I recognize the courage it takes for college leaders to promote biblical principles and traditional values on campuses that are increasingly embracing the Cancel Culture and its ‘woke’ demands,” Kiel said in a press statement. “Because our founding fathers considered the freedoms of speech and religion so important, they made them the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and Jake Statom was simply exercising the liberties that are guaranteed to him.”

According to the press release announcing the resolution, Statom was elected student government president in February. He has also publicly apologized to anyone who might have been offended by his comment, but his sincere response has done little to quell the continuing attacks.

State Reps. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville), Phillip Pettus (R-Killen), and Andrew Sorrell (R-Muscle Shoals) also participated in the drafting of the resolution, which was backed State Sens. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) and Tim Melson (R-Florence), as well.

Resolution as follows:

WHEREAS Jake Statom, an engineering major from Tuscumbia, was elected as president of the
University of North Alabama Student Government Association in February; and,

WHEREAS Statom reposted an Instagram post about the “LGBTQ” agenda and added a state-
ment that sought to promote traditional morals and biblical values; and,

WHEREAS some students responded to Statom’s comment, which was made on his personal
social media account, with a petition demanding his resignation from the student government
presidency by June 30 and threatening impeachment proceedings if he did not concede to their
demands; and,
WHEREAS Statom released a video statement apologizing to those who might have been hurt by

his online comment and committing to being more thoughtful and considerate of differing per-
spectives; and,

WHEREAS a student-led counter petition supporting Statom’s right to free speech and expressi-
on garnered more signatures than the one that issued threats of political reprisals; and,

WHEREAS the university environment is traditionally one which promotes the free and open
exchange of ideas – both conservative and liberal – and protects an individual’s right to their own
religious beliefs, values, and moral standards; and,
WHEREAS the dangerous “Cancel Culture” atmosphere that predominates on college campuses

both in Alabama and across the country seeks to silence opinions that are deemed to be political-
ly unacceptable to leftist ideologues and punish those who continue to adhere to traditional va-
lues, especially those rooted in fundamental religious teachings; and,

WHEREAS, Statom committed no impeachable offense by simply exercising the basic freedoms
of opinion, expression, and religion that are guaranteed to all Americans under the Bill of Rights
of the U.S. Constitution; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus, support
Jake Statom’s right to express and promote his personal beliefs in the public forum and recognize
his voluntary willingness to apologize to those he might have offended; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we strongly oppose any effort to impeach, remove, or apply
political pressure intended to force Jake Statom from the presidency of the University of North
Alabama Student Government Association.

Given under our hand and the seal of the Alabama House Republican Caucus on this 30th day of
June, 2021.

House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter

House Majority Caucus Vice-Chair Connie Rowe

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and the University of South Alabama, the editor of Breitbart TV, a columnist for Mobile’s Lagniappe Weekly, and host of Mobile’s “The Jeff Poor Show” from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on FM Talk 106.5.

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