An Arkansas district is under fire after reportedly refusing to publish a story about an openly gay student in the high school yearbook.
According to Fox affiliate KLRT, Sheridan High School yearbook editor Hannah Bruner had planned to write a profile of a fellow student who recently came out as gay. However, she says district administrators told her that it could not be published because they were afraid the story would perpetuate bullying.
Now, groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the Student Press Law Center are condemning the district.
Bruner told the Student Law Press Center (SPLC) that she does not think publishing the story, about student Taylor Ellis, would cause issues.
“I personally I do not think there’s a risk of that because everyone in the school already knows. It’s not a secret,” Bruner said. “He did come out last year and he did it over a social networking site so everyone knows already, and the story, like I said, is talking about how accepting everyone has been toward him.”
Ellis also told SPLC that he wants his story heard.
“I think that it’s a good thing for people like me to see that it’s OK to be openly gay in school,” Ellis said. “(The principal) said that it was personal, but it’s really not that personal because everybody knows. It’s not that big of a deal. ...It’s just showing other people that it’s OK to be who you are.”
The SPLC writes that such a decision would violate the Arkansas Student Publications Act, which protects student publications’ freedom of expression. However, Sheridan School District policy requires the principal give consent to articles in school publications.
On Sunday, the Human Rights Campaign also sent a letter to the district that requested officials reconsider.
“If not resolved immediately, this act of discriminatory censorship will send a dangerous message to all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in Sheridan, across Arkansas and around the nation -- that they are second-class citizens and their lives are not equally valid,” the letter states.
The district did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.