Excluded: Taylor Ellis
An American high school in Arkansas is refusing to include a student’s profile in its yearbook, apparently because he is openly gay.
In the profile, which was written by the yearbook’s assistant editor, Taylor Ellis talks about his coming to terms with being gay; something that did not go down well with Sheridan High School administrators.
“I use to be scared to say that I’m gay. It’s not fun keeping secrets; after I told everyone, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders,” said Ellis in the interview for the yearbook.
He also spoke about coming out on social media and writing about the experience for his English class, which his teacher welcomed.
According to the 17-year-old Ellis, who came out to his family a year ago, the school’s principal told him that the profile was too personal.
The profile was among six that were set to be published in the yearbook but now all of them have been dropped.
“Of course we have a good idea of why they’re not going in the yearbook,” Ellis told KATV news. “They don’t want to just throw out the gay kid’s interview.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has called on the school to reverse its decision and on the state’s governor and education commissioner to intervene.
“If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation — that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor’s fellow students to recognise him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalised that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body.”
Griffin will hold a press conference in Little Rock today with Ellis, his mother and supportive classmates. He will also have on-hand thousands of petition signatures from around the country asking the school to reverse their decision.