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Gay Arkansas student profile yanked from yearbook: Educators going backwards?

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A gay Arkansas student claims that his profile was pulled from the yearbook because he is gay. The high school junior calls his school “history,” because after he does his last year at the school, he will never look back at it again, according to CNN News on March 20.

The Sheridan High School officials pulled the profile of 17-year-old Taylor Ellis from the Yellowjacket yearbook. They will leave a profile out rather than publish it because it gives an account of when he came out.

Hannah Bruner, who is the assistant editor for the yearbook, said that it is a “big thing in Sheridan to be gay.” Bruner had profiled Ellis for the yearbook because “That something that doesn’t get told a lot.”

Apparently the school officials pulled seven student profiles that had an account of Ellis coming out contained within them. The Superintendent of schools, Brenda Haynes, said the school did its homework and reviewed state law, court cases and even school polices. They feel they are within their rights as the adults overseeing these kids.

When Ellis’s mother was contacted by the school principal she was told it was basically for his own good safety wise. Ellis’s mom said:

"I didn't understand, because there had been no problems, so I ask him, 'have you had threats?' "He said, 'no, ma'am, just his well-being."

Governor Mike Beebe and Tom Kimbrell, the state’s education commissioner, were asked to intervene, but they declined via representatives saying it was a local issue. This won’t end here, already petitions are circulating to get this changed.

It may be too late for this year’s yearbook, but if the Human Rights Campaign and other people fighting this have it their way, this won’t happen to another gay youth again.

"This discriminatory exclusion by Sheridan High School administrators has nothing to do with Arkansas values," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

A big part of being in the yearbook is to present yourself as an individual, someone unique who helps make up the entire student body. Kids need to be able to state who they are and talk about what makes them unique. How boring a yearbook would be if they just did a cookie cutter-type attempt at posting the kids' pictures in a book with very little of their personalities shinning through. This isn't about who the school officials think this kid should be. It is about Ellis and who he is today.

"Stand with Taylor, include his story in the yearbook" is what some of the signs said at a recent protest about ousting the yearbook profile. Why are the people who are overseeing the school so adamant about a young gay man being himself? You would think that the educators would be the ones standing behind Ellis today instead of being the ones to put up the blockades? Why are they going backwards in time?

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