First openly gay AISD board member criticized for withholding sexuality


by MORGAN CHESKY / KVUE News and Photojournalist MATT OLSEN

Posted on November 8, 2012 at 10:22 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 12 at 3:34 PM

AUSTIN -- In East Austin, the campaign signs have yet to come down. The race for AISD's District 2 school board seat pitted a priest, Reverend Jayme Mathias, against incumbent Sam Guzman.

Mathias came out the victor.

"I thought that serving on the school board was all about serving our students and their families," the newly elected board member admitted.

But instead of policies, Mathias finds the focus on his sexual orientation. This, after sharing he was gay in a post-election interview.

"It's something that I didn't feel the need to reveal," explained Mathias. "It's part of who I am, an important part of who I am, but it's not all of who I am."

Ordained in 2001, Mathias spent several years at East Austin's Christo Del Rey Catholic Church, taking over the pulpit following the murder of father Jesse Euresti back in 2009. Mathias left last March, joining the American Catholic Church.

"In the Roman Catholic tradition there are still documents saying that to be homosexual is to be intrinsically disordered," said Mathias.

"He went to my parish," said voter Frances Martinez. "He was my priest." 

But Martinez says she now finds herself betrayed, not knowing Mathias was gay until after the election.

"The question here is the honesty," voiced Martinez. "He could have been honest to us. What else is there for us to know."

When the news hit papers Thursday, the headlines recognized Mathias as AISD's first openly gay board member. A title Larry Amaro says came through deception.

"I think parents should have the right to know," Amaro stated. "Because it will sway an election."

Now Amaro and others are suggesting a recount. As for Mathias, the new board member is trying to move on to what he calls the real issues.

"It's time for us as trustees to get to work regardless of who we are, where we come from, what race or religion or sexual orientation," said Mathias.

Reverend Mathias does have a fair share of support for his new role at AISD. His facebook page is filled with comments, such at this one from Kristie Martinez," The LGBT community should be proud to have a role model like you."

Mathias will be sworn in November 19.

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