Gays Against Guns condemns Nashville school shooting

Families leave a reunification site in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, March 27, 2023 after several children were killed in a shooting at Covenant School in Nashville.
Families leave a reunification site in Nashville, Tenn., Monday, March 27, 2023 after several children were killed in a shooting at Covenant School in Nashville.
AP Photo/John Amis

In the aftermath of yet another school shooting — this time in Nashville — Gays Against Guns issued a statement expressing anger and demanding action on gun violence and anti-LGBTQ hatred.

The March 27 school shooting at the Covenant School in the Green Hills section of Nashville left six people dead, including three children, before police fatally shot the 28-year-old shooter, Audrey E. Hale, according to multiple news reports. The incident unfolded shortly after 10 a.m.

Footage from surveillance video cameras in the school shows the attacker arriving in a car and walking up to the school to shoot the glass doors. As alarms blare throughout the school, the shooter then walks upstairs, at which point police eventually arrive and fatally shoot the attacker.

The immediate aftermath of the shooting brought on a mix of news reports about the shooter’s gender identity. Police Chief John Drake stated that the shooter identified as transgender, but there were conflicting reports about the victim’s pronouns — and as of March 28, none of the details about the shooter’s gender identity have been confirmed. 

The victims are Evelyn Dieckhaus, 9; William Kinney, 9; Hallie Scruggs, 9; Mike Hill, 61; Cynthia Peak, 61; and Katherine Koonce, 60.

In condemning the shooting, Gays Against Guns pointed to the intersection of homophobia, transphobia, and how gendered “expectations and demands can take their toll on members of our LGBTQ+ communities who, instead of receiving support and understanding from their families and communities, receive hatred, ridicule, denigration, and persecution.” The group also noted that earlier in the month, Tennessee passed a bill codifying “sex” as “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth and evidence of a person’s biological sex.” Just weeks ago, Governor Bill Lee approved a law imposing restrictions on gender-affirming care for trans youth as well as a law barring certain drag performances.

The Gays Against Guns crew in Washington in 2021.
The Gays Against Guns crew in Washington in 2021.Donna Aceto

Gays Against Guns — which was formed in the aftermath of the 2016 Pulse massacre  — drew parallels to other cases. The group recalled that the Pulse shooter’s wife said her husband was a closeted gay man. The group also pointed to the mass shooter in the Colorado Springs nightclub massacre last year when the alleged assailant’s lawyer claimed they were non-binary. Again, though, nothing has been confirmed about the gender identity of the shooter.

“Hate kills,” Jay W. Walker, a founding member of Gays Against Guns, said in a written statement. “And hatred produces hatred. In all three of these situations, the violence perpetrated by these lost souls was turned against spaces that could and should have been spaces of solace and comfort for them: one’s former school, a gay bar in another’s hometown, and a queer nightclub that another had been to on a number of occasions.”

Gays Against Guns further stressed that gun violence — especially mass shootings — “cannot be separated from the efforts of the cisgender white supremacist patriarchy to keep us divided along lines of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexual orientation.”

“Until our society confronts these realities, rather than hide from or obscure them as ‘Don’t Say Gay’ and anti-’CRT’ laws proliferating across the nation (put forth by shadowy organizations like the Council for National Policy) intend, we can, sadly, expect many more incidents like today,” Gays Against Guns added.

Gays Against Guns is calling on Congress to urgently pass an assault weapons ban.