Censored: Taylor Ellis
School officials in the American state of Arkansas have defended a decision to exclude a gay student’s interview from his school’s yearbook.
In his profile, 17-year-old Taylor Ellis spoke about coming to terms with being gay. The principal of Sheridan High School, however, said that the profile was “too personal” and dropped it, along with another six profiles.
Ellis and the yearbook’s assistant editor claim that the other profiles were only removed from the yearbook so that it wouldn’t appear as if the school was specifically discriminating against him.
Despite calls by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) for officials to reinstate the profiles, Sheridan School District Superintendent Dr. Brenda Haynes backed the school’s censorship.
“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook,” she said in a statement.
“We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our own policies. It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so,” said Haynes.
On Wednesday, representatives from the HRC delivered nearly 35,000 petition signatures to the district, calling on officials to reverse their decision.
“Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor’s fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, the school’s principal and the district’s superintendent have told him that he’s not an equally valued part of the Sheridan High School student body,” said the organisation.