A high school in the U.S. has apologised for blacking out a picture of a male student kissing his boyfriend in every copy of its yearbook.
Eighteen year old Andre Jackson, from East Side High School in Newark bought a page for $150 in the traditional school yearbook and submitted a picture of himself kissing his boyfriend, David Escobales (19).
While the yearbook was published unchanged, school officials decided afterwards that the image was “illicit” and had it manually blacked it out with a marker just before it was given to students.
Jackson only found out about the ban when he received his copy.
While there are a number of pictures of heterosexual couples kissing in the publication, Superintendent of Schools Marion Bolden said that she felt that the image was “provocative” and could offend parents and students. Officials even considered ripping out the page.
“I didn’t intend to say, ‘Oh hey, look at me, I’m gay. It was just a picture showing my emotion, saying that I’m happy, you know, whatever. It was to look back on as a memory,” Jackson told the New York Times. He added that he was out to teachers and students at the school.
Now, after the issue made international headlines, the school district has apologised for its action in a statement issued on Monday. The apology, however, contradicts the original reason given for defacing the publication.
“The decision was based, in part, on misinformation that Mr. Jackson was not one of our students and our review simply focused on the suggestive nature of the photograph. Superintendent Marion A. Bolden personally apologizes to Mr. Jackson and regrets any embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to him,” said the district.
Gay rights group, Garden State Equality, which has been championing Jackson’s cause said that the student had in fact not been contacted by Bolden at the time of the statement being issued.
The school has said that it will republish an uncensored version of the yearbook for any student that wishes to have a copy.