Clint McCance, a member of the Midland school board in Pleasant Plains, about 70 miles northeast of Little Rock, announced his resignation Thursday night on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." He said he was quitting "to help my school, my community," though he added that he might run again for the board at some point.
"The only thing I can do is extend my apologies for my poor speech," he said. "I don't wish death on anyone."
McCance had scoffed in a Facebook posting at a campaign asking supporters to wear purple Oct. 20 to show solidarity after several gay and lesbian youths killed themselves, reportedly because of bullying.
"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves," McCance wrote. "The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin."
In a follow-up response to Facebook users who criticized his comments, McCance wrote that he liked that gay people "can't procreate (and) I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die."
Jowharah Sanders, founder and executive director of the anti-bullying group National Voices for Equality, Education, and Enlightenment, told The Associated Press that she was glad McCance was resigning because that means his sentiments will no longer represent authority in his community.
Several gay rights groups had condemned the Facebook posting, including the Human Rights Campaign, which launched its own Facebook page calling for McCance's resignation.
McCance did not respond to a phone message left Thursday by The Associated Press at his carpet cleaning business, and there was no answer at a number listed for his home.
In his interview on CNN, McCance said the language he had used on Facebook was "too harsh ... too emotional." He also said he and his family had received "thousands of phone calls and hate mail" and that he had sent his family out of the state to protect them.
Sanders noted the irony of that statement.
"His cyber-bullying has affected his family," Sanders said.
McCance did retreat from his statements, telling CNN, "I would never support suicide for any kids. … I don't support bullying of any kids."
He added, "I'd like to extend apologies to those families that have lost children, for all those children who feel that suicide is the only way out, especially for the five families who have already lost children," referring to recent suicides by gay teens. "I brought more hurt on them. ... They didn't deserve that."
The Midland district disavowed McCance's sentiments in a statement Wednesday, and Superintendent Dean Stanley echoed that in a letter Thursday to 1998 Midland graduate R. Anthony Turner, who wrote the school board a letter calling attention to McCance's Facebook posting.
Stanley's letter to Turner said McCance "does not represent the board or speak for the board when he posts on his Facebook page."
"Every student life is equally valuable without regard to race, sex, or sexual orientation, religious belief or affiliation," Stanley wrote. "Everyone really is someone special and deserves to be treated with care and respect."