Missouri High School Removes Two Gay Students' Inspirational Yearbook Quotes

Claudine Rigal
Août 15, 2017

Joey Slivinski and Thomas Swartz were told that their quotes, which referenced coming out, could not be included in the yearbook as they may "offend another student or groups of students". In censoring these students' quotes, the school administration perpetuates a cycle of ignorance and hate.

They say they got absolutely no warning about the edit.

"I went to find my quote in the yearbook but, nothing was there", Slavinsky said.

"I'm proud to be from Kearney and I'm proud to be who I am", Slivinski told KCTV5.

"It was a blank picture under my name", Swartz said. "I didn't spend all that time in the closet for nothing'".

"If Harry Potter taught us anything, it's that no one should have to live in the closet", it read.

The district said these were offensive.

It's a tradition that graduating seniors have the opportunity to pick a quote to go with their picture in the yearbook.

District officials later, in a statement to parents, apologized to the students but said they chose to remove their quotes over concerns that the quotes could "potentially offend" other students, according to news reports. Doing so in this case had the unintentional effect of offending the very students the practice was created to protect. "We sincerely apologize to those students", it continued.

Meanwhile, Mr. Swartz and Mr. Slivinski said they plan to type up stickers with their quotes so that friends can insert their words into the yearbook. They've already graduated, though, so they'll only be able to correct the yearbooks of the kids they see again.

District administrators were made aware of concerns regarding the removal of senior quotes from the school yearbook. They deserved better from their community.

"I'm proud to be from Kearney and I'm proud to be who I am", Mr. Slivinski said. "We acknowledge our mistake and will use it as a learning opportunity to improve in the future".

"Our schools are supposed to be a place that you can express being who you are".

On his Facebook page, Slivinski wrote; "I have always supported the Kearney School District".

In a statement issued to parents and local media, the school district apologized to the students while at the same time attempting to defend the rationale behind its decision.

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