Quitman High School scrapped all homecoming speeches by members of the homecoming court Friday after one of the maids gave a practice speech in which she mentioned coming out as a lesbian to her parents. KARK reports.
The Quitman School District Superintendent declined an on camera interview, but told us over the phone that some speeches became lengthy so they had to condense the homecoming program. A teacher told us as soon as the Quitman School District heard about the student’s speech, they cancelled it due to safety reasons and didn’t want to add fuel to the fire, even though the student and her parents decided to change the speech.
Several students expressed support for their classmate.
Bree Mash says her friend is being singled out because of her sexual orientation.
“It’s frustrating. I know she feels like she’s been singled out and it’s not fair,” she says.
Mash says her friend wrote she was born a lesbian and the most memorable moment was coming out to her parents.
“They’ve been completely liberal with whatever people wanted to put, religion, whatever and it’s been fine. It’s just up until now,” says Mash.
I got a message about this on Facebook from a relative of the student who says she was “belittled” on Facebook by faculty and a school official. A screen shot of a school board member included a comment supposedly related to the controversy: “We are living in a messed up world. #truth #havesomedecency” [The School Board member sent me a note later saying this comment was related to other world events, not the student. I have asked her if she’d like to publicly express support for the student and defend the ability of any student to speak openly about their sexuality.)
Speeches or not (and they are probably more accurately described as introductory remarks prepared by each participant), the ceremony could have used a Scripture reading. Matthew 7:12 comes to mind. This sadly recalls the Sheridan school district’s refusal to allow publication of a yearbook article in which a student talked about being gay. It ain’t easy. Remember these episodes the next time you hear one of the proponents of legal discrimination in Fayetteville claim there’s no need for an ordinance discouraging discrimination. They’d have you believe there is no discrimination. There is. And that’s the way those hoping to repeal the ordinance like it.
UPDATE: News from Quitman prompted a statement from the Arkansas Democratic Party Stonewall Caucus:
The Arkansas Stonewall Democratic Caucus is saddened to hear that another LGBTQ high school student in AR has been treated unfairly by a school administration and board who is censoring an important event in this child’s life. This treatment is wrong and at the very least schools should protect and give our children confidence by respecting them as the person they were created to be.
President, Stonewall Democratic Caucus