PORTLAND -- Portland students spoke out Thursday about a man whose invitation to speak at two Portland Public Schools events was rescinded after his views on homosexuality came to light.

Dr. Umar Johnson was asked to speak at Jefferson High School and SEI Academy on educational issues in the African American community.

The appearances were canceled after district officials were made aware of YouTube videos in which Johnson describes homosexuality as a mental illness and says it is crippling the fight against white supremacy.

The district reportedly didn't know about the videos until The Oregonian asked about them.

Background: PPS cancels speaker who calls homosexuality a 'mental illness'

Jefferson students who spoke with KGW agreed that the district made the right decision.

There are some gay people at our school and people have the right to do whatever they want, said Latrell Summerfield. They are kids, so they are still discovering who they are. And saying gay people are wrong, that can push them back into the closet.

When it comes to homophobia I dont consider it to be acceptable, said Clayborn Collins. We don t need his homophobic or derogatory statements to be made in our school.

At least one parent also stood behind the district.

That can really throw a kid if they are gay coming up, I think it s a bad thing, said Don Andrews. It s a really bad thing.

Johnson told KGW Wednesday the decision was unfortunate, and that he wanted to provide critical information to the students.

When asked if he still believes gay people have a mental illness, Johnson told KGW he could not provide a yes or no answer.


KGWreporter Ashley Korslien contributed to this report.

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