The courtyard at Sampson Community College is usually quiet as students meander to class, from the cafeteria, student union or nearby parking lots. So when two middle-aged men set up a table and began handing out pamphlets in the spring semester of 2015, students were curious.
Were they pitching four-year universities? Local jobs?
Some Sampson students walked over to find out. Some regretted the encounter.
Portions of the fliers the men distributed described hateful feelings towards gay and transgender people. They’re broken, the fliers said. They watch people in bathrooms and sexually assault children.
It was exactly the message then-student Mason Logan tried to eliminate from the rural college campus. Logan, 21, founded Sampson’s Safe Space Alliance, an LGBTQ-oriented student network to advocate for those who need it.
Logan, who now attends UNC-Asheville, remembers the men’s message.
“You’re going to hell, and gay people are sick and need help,” Logan recalls the men saying. “They (gay and transgender people) were targeted because of a fundamental aspect of their identity that they couldn’t change.”
The men stayed in the courtyard for hours, Logan said, and criticized others – including women who are divorced and people who have premarital sex.
Logan said college officials, who allowed the protesters to be on campus, acknowledged that they made a mistake and didn’t vet the material the men were handing out. But the college never apologized, Logan said.
Sampson Community College did not respond to the Observer's email and phone messages.