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Missouri High School Removes Yearbook Quotes From Gay Students

One of the most popular high-school traditions is the submission of yearbook quotes by graduating students. However, the much-loved tradition has not gone to plan at Kearney High School in western Missouri.

According to the Washington Post, the Kearney High School administrators who reviewed the quotes for profanity and offensive content also decided to remove submissions from the school’s two gay students.

Outraged, the two openly gay students, Joey Slivinski and Thomas Swartz, spoke to KCTV 5 about what they had written, reading out their quotes on TV:

“Of course I dress well, I didn’t spend all that time in the closet for nothing,” Slivinski read out. “If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one deserves to live in the closet,” followed Swartz.

In interviews with local media outlets, Slivinski and Swartz emphasized that their quotes were meant to inspire other gay students and teenagers. When pressed, school administrators emphasized that they had removed the two submissions because they were concerned that the quotes might “potentially offend” other members of the school and local community.

Following enormous media pressure, the school district responded to the criticism, apologizing to Kearney High School parents and defending the yearbook changes. The school district’s statement read:

“In an effort to protect our students, quotes that could potentially offend another student or groups of students are not published. It is the school’s practice to err on the side of caution.

Doing so in this case had the unintentional consequence of offending the very students the practice was designed to protect. We sincerely apologize to those students. We acknowledge our mistake and will use it as a learning opportunity to improve in the future.”

Bill Nicely, the Kearney School principal and District Superintendent, signed the statement and encouraged anyone to approach him directly if they had further questions.

Unsurprisingly, Slivinski and Swartz are disappointed and hurt by the school district’s response. “[Kearney High School] showed me that I am not accepted for being who I am,” wrote Slivinski on Facebook.

“Our schools are supposed to be a place that you can express being who you are. Today I realized Kearney isn’t ready for me being me…I always thought Kearney was going uphill but quickly realized we’re zooming downhill quick.”

The disillusioned student finished his post with a final angry remark: “Thank you to the Kearney School District for making me feel like you’re ashamed of having a gay student.”

Online commenters have surged to support Slivinski and Swartz, slamming Kearney administrators for their incomprehensibly ham-fisted approach. One Washington Post commenter ‘Meh227’ accused school administrators of being ‘snowflakes’.

“Pinheads...The administrators, not the students,” he wrote. “I loved their quotes. Now they've shot around the world. I thought this was a post PC world. Maybe those two snowflakes needed a safe place...The administrators, not the students.”

Another politically-charged commenter, ‘Lefty101’, quickly agreed, writing: “Weird-I thought the republicans hated political correctness and efforts to thwart free speech…How could this happen?”

Source: The Washington Post
Photo: Human Rights Campaign - Kansas City

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