Nicholas Sparks Apologizes to LGBTQ Community and for Emails Written ‘In Haste’

“I believe in the school’s founding principle of loving God and thy neighbor as thyself, and that includes members of the LGBTQ community,” “The Notebook” author writes

“The Notebook” author Nicholas Sparks has apologized for emails released last week by The Daily Beast that show him attempting to bar an LGBT club from forming at a Christian school, saying that his emails were written “in haste” and that within those emails, he failed to show his “unequivocal” support for the LGBT community.

“As a writer I should have understood the power and enduring nature of my words, but like many people sent emails off in haste under stressful and tumultuous conditions,” Sparks said in a statement. “My greatest regret, however, is not my lack of deliberation, but first and foremost that I failed to be more unequivocal about my support for the students in question.”

Last week, The Daily Beast published a series of emails between Sparks and the former headmaster of the Epiphany School, a Christian academy run by Sparks in North Carolina, in which Sparks wrote that he disagreed with a non-discrimination policy about making the school open to people of other sexual orientations and that an LGBT club would “never” be allowed at the school.

Sparks responded to specific issues within The Daily Beast article and said that he is still engaged in a legal battle with the former headmaster of the school and that he disagreed with how the headmaster went about trying to establish the club.

“When in one of my emails I used language such as ‘there will never be an LGBT club’ at Epiphany, l was responding heatedly to how the headmaster had gone about initiating this club,” Sparks wrote. “My concern was that if a club were to be founded, it be done in a thoughtful, transparent manner with the knowledge of faculty, students and parents – not in secret, and not in a way that felt exceptional. I only wish I had used those exact words.

“Similarly, when I referred to a prior headmaster addressing the presence of gay students “quietly and wonderfully,’ I meant that he supported them in a straightforward,  unambiguous way – NOT that he in any way encouraged students to be silent about their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he continued.

A representative for Sparks said that former members of the LGBT club at the school reached out to The Daily Beast to refute the story, and others have reached out to him and his family directly to defend him as supportive of the LGBTQ community.

“I believe in the school’s founding principle of loving God and thy neighbor as thyself, and that includes members of the LGBTQ community,” Sparks said. “I believe in and unreservedly support the principle that all individuals should be free to love, marry and have children with the person they choose, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. This is and has always been a core value of mine.”

Read Sparks’s full statement below:

As someone who has spent the better part of my life as a writer who understands the power of words, I regret and apologize that mine have potentially hurt young people and members of the LGBTQ community ,including my friends and colleagues in that community.

Thirteen years ago, I founded the Epiphany School of Global Studies anchored in the commandment to love God and your neighbor as you love yourself.  I am currently engaged in a several years-long lawsuit with a former headmaster of the school. As a result of that suit, several e-mails from me have been released to the public that on the surface, portray me as someone intolerant of having an LGBTQ club at the school. Unfortunately, the ongoing lawsuit constrains what I can reveal about the specific circumstances six years ago that gave rise to these emails, but I very much  want to articulate my beliefs and share where my heart is on this matter.

I believe in the school’s founding principle of loving God and thy neighbor as thyself, and that includes members of the LGBTQ community.  I believe in and unreservedly support the principle that all individuals should be free to love, marry and have children with the person they choose, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. This is and has always been a core value of mine.  I am an unequivocal supporter of gay marriage, gay adoption, and equal employment rights and would never want to discourage any young person or adult from embracing who they are.

When in one of my emails I used language such as “there will never be an LGBT club” at Epiphany, l was responding heatedly to how the headmaster had gone about initiating this club – like most schools, Epiphany has procedures and policies for establishing any student club. My concern was that if a club were to be founded, it be done in a thoughtful, transparent manner with the knowledge of faculty, students and parents – not in secret, and not in a way that felt exceptional.  I only wish I had used those exact words.  Similarly, when I referred to a prior headmaster addressing the presence of gay students “quietly and wonderfully,” I meant that he supported them in a straightforward,  unambiguous way – NOT that he in any way encouraged students to be silent about their gender identity or sexual orientation.

In 2013 I was embroiled in a rapidly escalating conflict and besieged by vociferous complaints about a wide range of incidents involving the headmaster’s behavior.  Ironically, as a writer I should have understood the power and enduring nature of my words, but like many people sent emails off in haste under stressful and tumultuous conditions.  My greatest regret, however, is not my lack of deliberation, but first and foremost that I failed to be more unequivocal about my support for the students in question.

It’s never been my intent to be unresponsive to the needs of the LGBTQ or any minority community. In fact the opposite is true, and I trust my actions moving forward will confirm that.

Sincerely, Nicholas Sparks