Two gay Missouri high school students had their senior quotes removed from the yearbook, KCTV5 News reports.
Kearney High graduates Joey Slavinsky and Thomas Swartz say that they submitted their quotes before graduation like every other senior, but the school removed theirs from the 2017 yearbook without warning or explanation. When they received their yearbooks, Slavinsky and Swartz found blank space beneath their names and photos.
Both of the teens, who are are openly gay, had chosen quotes about coming out that they found funny and inspirational.
Slavinsky submitted, “Of course I dress well. I didn’t spend all that time in the closet for nothing.” Swartz’s submitted, “If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one should have to live in the closet.”
The school’s administration deemed the quotes offensive but now claims they didn’t intend to offend Slavinsky and Swartz with the censorship.
Kearney School District officials provided KCTV5 with the following statement:
District administrators were made aware of concerns regarding the removal of senior quotes from the school yearbook. Each year, graduating seniors are provided an opportunity to pick a favorite quote to be placed in the yearbook. In an effort to protect our students, quotes that could potentially offend another student or groups of students are not published. It is the school’s practice to err on the side of caution. Doing so in this case had the unintentional consequence of offending the very students the practice was designed to protect. We sincerely apologize to those students. All KSD staff understand the importance of inclusion and acceptance especially in an educational setting. We work diligently to help every student feel safe, supported, and included. District staff participate in ongoing training around issues of diversity and support student organizations that do the same. That being said, we acknowledge our mistake and will use it as a learning opportunity to improve in the future.
“They need to know what they did is wrong,” Swartz says.
“I’m proud to be from Kearney and I’m proud to be who I am,” Slavinsky adds. “I’m just disappointed at what happened.”
The two graduates plan to make stickers to insert their original quotes into their and their friends’ yearbooks.