Openly gay student says school won't publish his yearbook bio - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

Openly gay student says school won't publish his yearbook bio

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SHERIDAN, Ark. (KATV) – An Arkansas high school student is getting national attention after the district chose not to publish his profile in the yearbook. The yearbooks' assistant editor says it's because he is gay.

Six student profiles have been removed from the Sheridan High School's yearbook including one junior's story.

Taylor Ellis came out to his family and peers a year ago and wanted to share how well the community has accepted him, but he says his principal told him his yearbook profile was too personal.

"I'm already openly gay, so there's no reason that it should affect how people see me," said Ellis.

Ellis, 17, is a junior attending Sheridan High School and was supposed to be featured as one of the student profiles in this year's Yellow Jackets Yearbook.

"Whenever we do them we need to find people who actually have a story to tell, something that's interesting and that wouldn't normally be featured," said Yellow Jackets Yearbook Assistant Editor Hannah Bruner.   

That's when Bruner thought Ellis’ story would be interesting to tell since he had come out to the community a year earlier.

"It's a big thing in Sheridan to be gay. That's something that doesn't get told a lot," said Bruner.

After spending weeks writing the piece, Bruner found out the Sheridan School District was not going to allow it to be printed and removed all the profiles.

"Of course we have a good idea of why they're not going in the yearbook," said Ellis. "They don't want to just throw out the gay kid’s interview."

Both students said the profile was not his "coming out story" but rather how the community has responded.

"Censorship has been a problem for the yearbook in the past, but no one has taken the initiative to do anything and it's scary," said Bruner.

"They're history. When I'm done with Sheridan, I'm done with Sheridan; I have one more year and after that I'll thank God that I'm not there anymore," said Ellis.

The school district responded Tuesday, saying the decisions made have to benefit all of the students, not just a small group.

“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 Superintendent Dr. Brenda Haynes.

As a result, the seven profiles have been removed from the book.

 

The Human Rights Campaign has stepped in and is now asking Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and the state's education commissioner to get involved. The Human Rights Campaign is holding a press conference on the State Capitol steps Tuesday afternoon.

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