Target: Sheridan High School Principal, Rodney Williams
Goal: Demand that gay student’s biography be included in high school yearbook
School administrators of Sheridan High School in Sheridan, Arkansas have refused to include the biography of an openly gay student in its yearbook claiming that the article was ‘too personal’ and would create an uproar of negative repercussions. In contrast, Sheridan High School’s yearbook editor, Hannah Bruner, thinks that administrators are simply being uptight.
In a personal statement, Bruner revealed that 17-year-old Taylor Ellis revealed that he was gay on a social networking site and received an outpouring of support and acceptance from his fellow peers. Bruner states “I personally do not think there’s a risk…because everyone in the school already knows. It’s not a secret…” And, about the allegedly intimate article she says “…the story is talking about how accepting everyone has been toward him.”
Further, Ellis’ biography was not the only one omitted from the yearbook. Six other student profiles were pulled which caused groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the Student Press Law Center to condemn the district for its alleged homophobia. Although Taylor Ellis has expressed admirable consideration for the administration’s concern, this still doesn’t change the fact that his courageous story has been purposely deleted from Sheridan High’s history forever.
With so many LGBT pioneers absent from history and memory, the lives and stories of brave people like Taylor Ellis serve as an alternative account of the struggles, failures and triumphs of this long withstanding and vivacious community. To exclude Ellis’ story, and the stories of other students, sends an unfortunate message to all LGBT youth in Arkansas: your lives do not matter and you will always be inferior compared to your straight comrades.
Tell Principal Rodney Williams of Sheridan High School to stop marginalizing its student body and include Taylor Ellis’ biography in the yearbook.
Dear Rodney Williams,
I am shocked and appalled at the decision you and your administration made to omit the biography of student Taylor Ellis from your school’s yearbook. In an attempt to rewrite and streamline Sheridan High School’s history you’ve not only offended the LGBT community at large, but violated Ellis’ right to freedom of expression. And, for that, you should be ashamed.
By excluding Ellis’ story and the stories of six other students you have only perpetuated the sad reality that the voices, stories and lives of LGBT youth are invalid and thus, unimportant. To rectify the situation, I urge you to include the biographies of the students you so spitefully deleted and recognize that LGBT people, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth, are not second-class citizens. They deserve to exist.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: quil via everystockphoto