Post submitted by Charlie Joughin, HRC Press Secretary
This morning representatives from HRC delivered nearly 35,000 petition signatures to the Sheridan School District, calling on officials to reverse their decision to exclude an interview with openly gay student Taylor Ellis in this year’s yearbook. 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.
This act of discriminatory censorship sends a dangerous message to all LGBT students in Sheridan, across Arkansas, and the nation – that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid. Tens of thousands of fair-minded Americans are speaking out against this discrimination.
Yesterday dozens of supporters joined HRC President Chad Griffin for a press conference on the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol building. Earlier in the day, the superintendent announced she was standing by the discriminatory decision to not include the interview in the yearbook.
Sheridan Superintendent Dr. Brenda Haynes released the following statement:
"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 The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook.
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."