Press Room

March 16, 2014

Category: Youth & Campus, Arkansas

Arkansas High School Refuses to Publish Gay Student’s Bio

HRC calls on Sheridan School District administrators to do the right thing and reverse their decision

WASHINGTON – Administrators at Sheridan High School, located just south of Little Rock, Arkansas, are refusing to include an interview with openly gay student Taylor Ellis in this year’s yearbook. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, is calling on Sheridan Superintendent Brenda Haynes and Principal Rodney Williams to reverse the decision.

In a letter to both Haynes and Williams, HRC President Chad Griffin said:

“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.  Instead of respecting the wishes of Taylor's fellow students to recognize him in their yearbook, you have told him and other students who may already feel marginalized that they are not an equally valued part of the Sheridan high school student body.

“As an Arkansas native and a former elementary school student in Sheridan, I was taught the Golden Rule – about treating others as we would like to be treated. Whatever you may say about your intentions, it does not change the fact that you have failed to uphold these values that all fair-minded Arkansans share. Addressing bullying requires stopping bullies, not muzzling harmless free expression.”

The full letter is available here.

HRC’s 2012 Youth Survey reflects the urgent need to ensure schools are welcoming and supportive environments for LGBT youth. The survey found that some of the biggest concerns facing youth include grades and getting into college – but for LGBT youth, their biggest worries were non-accepting families, bullying and harassment, and a fear of coming out. And 92 percent of LGBT youth hear negative messages about being gay.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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