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CA Principal Ejects Gay Student from High School Pageant for Saying He Wants to Get Married


Assistant Principal Joe Abell of Fullerton Union High School in Orange County, California publicly apologized after removing a gay student from stage during the Mr. Fullerton contest on April 3 after the student said he hoped same-sex marriage would be legal and he would be married in a decade, the Voice of OC reports:

Heather Sutherland, the parent of another student, was in the audience during the Tuesday night competition. She said the male student was asked as part of the contest what he hoped to be doing in 10 years.

She said he initially made a lighthearted comment about being a highly successful entertainer but then turned serious. According to a letter circulated Wednesday by other students to support the teen who was removed from the competition, “he replied by saying he hopes to find the love of his life, and to be able to marry him, and that he hopes gay marriage will be legal.”

While the student was giving his answer, “assistant principal Joe Abell came on stage in front of the hundreds of people in attendance and interrupted [the student’s] speech and disqualified him from the competition,” the support letter stated.

According the the district’s statement, "an Assistant Principal removed a male student from the stage during the Mr. Fullerton competition for making what the Assistant Principal believed to be a statement that was off script and not pre-approved.” Sutherland said the audience seemed supportive of the gay student’s hopes.

Students are protesting, according to the OC Register:

Friends of the student protested by passing out nearly 200 letters addressed to the assistant principal asking, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?"

The letters included space for protestors to write a personal message. Senior Blake Danford, who helped organize the protest, said the group plans to deliver them to the assistant principal later in the week. "This is an entire situation about bullying," Danford said.

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  1. test

    Posted by: test | Apr 4, 2012 9:29:26 PM

  2. I hope to see the Vice Principal out of a job in ten *days*.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Apr 4, 2012 9:34:56 PM

  3. It's shocking that these radical students want to settle down and get married. Whoever heard of such an anti-social goal in life?

    Posted by: TonyT | Apr 4, 2012 10:40:55 PM

  4. The assistant principal is guilty of child abuse pure and simple. He humiliated and tried to smash a kids dream. God only knows the courage it took for the boy to say that only to have a hate monger try to ruin it. What an absolute low-life.

    Posted by: The Village Elder | Apr 4, 2012 10:44:08 PM

  5. It's really not a surprise, This school is in my Universities backyard. While my school is getting a much more vibrant gay community every semester (and only because we are the blue spot in red orange county), orange county still treats the LGBT community as "those who must not be named" and it doesn't surprise me that Fullerton would be where a few small minded people snap and do something stupid.

    These officials need to be held accountable. To eject a student from their studies for a social issue is terrible. The school officials obviously do not have the children's education in mind at all.

    Posted by: Redebbm | Apr 4, 2012 10:52:52 PM

  6. This Asst Principal is a real jerk. Yeah, what a "scandalous" response this kid had to a direct question about what he wanted in 10 years! To meet someone he loves and to marry that person. Somebody get that rebel under control!

    My question is what religious faith does this principal use to excuse his actions?

    But between this story and the one about the Catholic high school students forcing the end of a prejudicial, homophobic school assembly, it actually gives me hope.

    Maybe the kids really are alright.

    Posted by: Caliban | Apr 4, 2012 11:27:20 PM

  7. Another day, and yet another email to send to a shameful bigot.

    How can these people call themselves educators in a public school when they cannot practice tolerance and acceptance. When they allow their own personal prejudice to override basic fair play and justice.

    Posted by: Continuum | Apr 4, 2012 11:28:28 PM

  8. When will these bigots learn. He will be dismissed and the sooner the better

    Posted by: Stephen | Apr 5, 2012 12:16:36 AM

  9. This is almost a not at all surprising story. Except for the support he is getting. Yes, perhaps the kids are all right. These kids almost make me reconsider my handle. But I would have to see a lot more of it before I did something like that. But I feel hope that one day I may do just that. This story actually is bitter sweet, looked at the right way. It is old people on their way out on the wrong side of this issue. Not the young people on the way up. It doesn't sound from this story as if the principle has any student support. Only a vaguely sized opposition. I wonder how it will develope. Perhaps this student will get the vindication he needs after all.
    One can only hope... and write letters. Lots of letters.

    Posted by: H8Str8s | Apr 5, 2012 12:52:14 AM

  10. I will say it's also amazing to see the comments that accompany this article.
    The student's mother comes across as the mother I wish more LGBT children would have.

    Posted by: Kevin | Apr 5, 2012 1:29:10 AM

  11. "Off-script and not pre-approved?" So the goal of this high school is NOT to help students learn to think for themselves. Are the students required to submit a plan of everything they are going to say every day? It's the speaker's life, Mr. Abell, not yours and, irony of irony, if you'd left the young man alone, you wouldn't be in trouble. What kind of a control freak are you?

    Posted by: james | Apr 5, 2012 3:17:09 AM

  12. Sue! That is an invasion of freedom of speech and worse, he was PENALIZED for his freedom of speech. I would contact the ACLU.

    Posted by: Joel | Apr 5, 2012 4:39:57 AM

  13. This is a major violation of the kids freedom of speech. I do think he has a great case here given that there are witnesses, he didn't say anything inappropriate, and he was barred for expressing his 1st amendment rights. I would hope someone ecnourages him to file a lawsuit.

    Posted by: IonMusic | Apr 5, 2012 4:41:27 AM

  14. This assitant principal needs to be made an example of. It's because of monsters like him that gay students not only NOT get the support they need, but bullies are ecnouraged to target and bully gay youth. He either needs to be fired, or this student needs to hire an attorney. We've been seeing way, way too many cases of school officials displaying outright homophobia and this is directly correlated to the number of gay youth suicide.

    Posted by: USC Trojan Fan | Apr 5, 2012 4:43:21 AM

  15. @REDEBBM - How long have you been living in Fullerton? Only there for the school, I bet?

    I lived in Fullerton for 8 years, moving for work 6 months ago. Being on the northern border of Orange County, it is vastly more liberal than the county in which it resides. So don't broadstroke it so ignorantly. You could be going to school in Irvine, after all.

    It is also a college town, having one of the oldest colleges in the region (not the commuter State school you go to.) The entire community is arts-centric, with a high per-capita number of art galleries and playhouses within its city limits. That's the basis of a liberal bastion if I've ever seen one.

    What I'm saying is this AP isn't indicative of the community he serves. And it disappoints me that he puts a bad name on a beautiful community that I happen to be very fond of.

    Posted by: TommyOC | Apr 5, 2012 6:17:52 AM

  16. "In ten years I want to be alone, bitter, angry, and despised by society. And suicidal if not already dead. Everyone will wonder what's wrong with me, but I won't say because I'm... oh, I don't want to upset anybody so I'll just keep quiet."

    There, is that better?

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Apr 5, 2012 7:36:24 AM

  17. In the recent past, there would not have been the backlash against this Assistant Principal. There is real progress being made.

    To me, hankering to emulate the bourgeois heterosexual oppressors lifestyle is a little bit sad, but I'm hoping its a transition stage in gay liberation.

    Meanwhile, why is Prop 8 still law in California? What is wrong with people?

    Posted by: Fahd | Apr 5, 2012 7:45:14 AM

  18. "To me, hankering to emulate the bourgeois heterosexual oppressors lifestyle is a little bit sad, but I'm hoping its a transition stage in gay liberation.

    Meanwhile, why is Prop 8 still law in California? What is wrong with people?"

    Okay, you're opposed to gay marriage because you think it emulates "the bourgeois heterosexual oppressors lifestyle", yet you are upset that it is currently not legal in California.

    What. Ever.

    Posted by: Marty Steinbaum | Apr 5, 2012 8:01:55 AM

  19. I am a teacher at a neighboring school in the same district. It's important to know that the teachers in the district are, like all of you, outraged by the administrator's conduct and are firmly in support of this brave student. We fight this kind of ignorance every day, and we are ashamed that the ignorance we fight is from within our own community. We console ourselves with the thought that the students involved have shown themselves to be far more thoughtful and mature than the administrator whose job it is to provide them a safe learning environment.

    Posted by: Garfield | Apr 5, 2012 8:22:18 AM

  20. There! You have it! Proof, that bullying in our public schools begins at the top.

    Posted by: Ricco | Apr 5, 2012 8:27:52 AM

  21. What gets me here is that these are PRINCIPALS engaging in this sort of behavior, in this case, an assistant principal. Principals and teachers, high ranking officials. Yeah, the OC isn't the most gay friendly place, but this is happening EVERYWHERE. LGBTQ teachers are being fired unceremoniously. Kids that wear gay-supportive shirts are being told they either change/cover the shirt up, or be suspended. Homophobes are being brought for speaking demonstrations at schools. What we're really seeing is just how DEEP homophobia runs in the education industry. The schooling world is a very anti-gay world. So it comes as no surprise why LGBTQ children continue to be ostracized and discriminated against in schools across the country, particularly in conservative/rural areas. It's starts from the higher-ups.

    This story is absolutely horrible to read. The gay student was speaking out of his heart and the bigoted assistant teacher Mr. Abell totally took that special moment away from him and penalized him for it solely because it was gay-supportive. The public apology is a start, but to embarrass and publicly condemn the student for saying something that in NO way was inappropriate or offensive is just beyond unacceptable and creates a culture where anti-gay hostility becomes sanctioned. Mr. Abell needs to be fired. As for the school district, we'll see what further is done here, but an apology is certainly not enough. The student who was discriminated against certainly has a discrimination and violation of freedom of speech case if a lawsuit is the direction he and his family want to turn. In my eyes, to accomplish what needs to be accomplished, we have to hit these people where it hurts and leave them and others thinking twice about being discriminatory towards gay people.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 5, 2012 9:28:39 AM

  22. I do have to say, though, yes, OC isn't especially known for gay-acceptance, but the support this young man is getting is great. The fact the student body is rallying behind him is awesome and is yet another example that it's gonna be the youth that really press forward and demand and create change. With stories like these we're seeing that communities are standing up for the LGBTQ individual(s) who have been discriminated against. People are taking a stand against homophobia when faced with it head on. That's what shows me we are making progress overall. It makes me realize more people are beginning to get it. And that people are beginning to actually CARE ABOUT the well-being of LGBTQ children and the gay community and the people among it. So that gives you some positive vibes, and some hope. It's completely tragic that incidents like this continue to occur but things are going to keep improving if we as a society continue not taking homophobia for granted or allowing it to slide without being checked.

    I hope the young man who was horribly discriminated against is getting the support he needs right now.

    Posted by: Francis | Apr 5, 2012 9:40:49 AM

  23. Fullerton has a dubious past concerning gays and homosexuality....elected governmental officials wanted to tatoo and segregate the gay population during the height of the AIDS scare in the early '80's. Dannemyer and Dornan gathered their hate-monger friends and started to vilify the LBGT community locally and nationally. They fostered a deep mistrust, hate, and near crucifixion of those who could have benefited from a helping hand, not a kick to the curb. Joe Abel, who must harbor some of that same hate, distrust, must step aside and let love, not bullying, to be fostered at Fullerton High school. Kudos to the student for his candid response and fortitude to stand in front of hundreds of peers and nakedly display his wish to be in love and marry....something we all should have the right to do.

    Posted by: Theodore Schraff | Apr 5, 2012 9:44:07 AM

  24. AP dude looks like he's already gotten what he deserved. If I could play devil's advocate for a minute, this profound error in judgement has already put a ceiling on his career and I doubt he could fail to understand what was wrong.

    From experience, I`ve found many str8 folks see ignorance here and figure there but for the Grace of Godess go they. When I've overdone sticking up for rights harshly it's created hurt feelings all over sometimes which is definitely a step back. Blowback is a real issue if you don't pay attention, so I think a couple of olive branches might be in order along with what comes more immediately to mind... Thanks

    Posted by: rdiac | Apr 5, 2012 10:15:51 AM

  25. A few hundred phone calls about Mr. Abel's behavior, complaining directly to the school, principal (and school board) sounds like a good idea right now.

    Posted by: Will | Apr 5, 2012 10:17:54 AM

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