Dismissing the Human Rights Campaign as a “special interest group,” an Arkansas school district is standing by its decision to censor an openly gay student’s yearbook profile.
Taylor Ellis, 17, was one of seven students selected to have profiles published in the 2014 yearbook at Sheridan High School, south of Little Rock. Ellis’ profile focused on his coming out story. However, the school’s principal, Rodney Williams, told Ellis the story was too personal, and announced he was nixing all seven profiles.
The decision made national news and prompted HRC President Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native, to pen a letter to Williams and district superintendent Brenda Haynes calling on them to reverse the decision. HRC also sent letters to Gov. Mike Beebe and state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell. But on Tuesday, Haynes rejected Griffin’s plea, according to ArkansasNews.com.
“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community,” Haynes said in a statement. “We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook
“We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our own policies,” Haynes said. “It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so.”
Meanwhile, Ellis was joined by Griffin for a rally on the Capitol steps in Little Rock on Tuesday. Also speaking at the rally was Ellis’ mother, Lynn Tiley, and Hannah Bruner, the assistant yearbook editor.
HRC officials planned to deliver 30,000 petitions to Principal Williams on Wednesday morning.
Watch KATV’s report below.