Houston, Texas Mayoral Candidate Dwight Boykins is facing scrutiny after he made several inappropriate comments during a meet and greet where he addressed a group of teenagers.
According to KTRK, Boykins was speaking to young people who were attending a five-day Youth Advocacy Summit organized by OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates and Mi Familia Vota, when things quickly fell apart.
“He was telling us we should keep our legs closed, that we shouldn’t taint ourselves,” a 16-year-old, identified only as Khloe told the news station. “In a way, saying that we should stay pure because otherwise, in the future, other men won’t want us.”
Boykins then dragged the teens into his commentary, using some of them as examples.
“He made a young man stand up and he was holding another girl side by side and he was like, ‘If me and her were to do something, that young man wouldn’t want you in the future,’ and that really shows that he is invalidating young girls and not putting a good message across to the youth of America,” Khloe added.
“I was actually sitting like right across from her so I could see her expression perfectly and I could see her looking at everyone else and sort of mouthing, ‘I want to leave’,” 17-year-old Hajra Alvi said.
The OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates and Mi Familia Vota released a joint statement on Saturday, supporting the teens and praising them for voicing their concerns.
“After an initial investigation, we took immediate action of notifying the appropriate authorities. Our organizations have pledged full and open cooperation with the authorities. In addition, we have notified and had discussions with parents and guardians of the students and will continue to communicate with them as circumstances dictate,” the statement read in part. “We do not and will not tolerate inappropriate behavior at our events regardless of whom the perpetrator might be. The safety and well-being of our young advocates are our paramount concern.”
“We fully support and are proud of these brave youth advocates who recognized the behavior was unacceptable and are speaking out about it. These young people are an outstanding example of leadership, mutual support, and advocacy in action,” the statement added.
Boykins, for his part, released his own statement on Facebook, apologizing for his comments.
“I have always been plain-spoken and have always spoke from my heart, especially where it involves laying a positive path forward for our youth. That was my sole objective recently when I was asked to speak to a group of students about their future hopes and dreams,” he wrote. “During the discussion, I shared my perspective on life and the importance of staying focused while avoiding some of the pitfalls that far too often plague many of our youth, a message I have delivered to groups around the city. My words were meant to inspire and I deeply regret the extent to which they caused anyone hurt or discomfort. That was never my intention, and to anyone who may have taken offense by what I said, I apologize.”
Nonetheless, the ensuing backlash upset several families, and prompted the hashtag #BoycottBoykins.
“We feel like it’s too little too late, because when we were there,” Khloe said. “His quote on quote ‘apologies’ almost seemed like damage control and mansplaining. He didn’t so much as apologize as tell us how important his future was to him.”