Arkansas Student Excluded from Yearbook for Being Gay Faces New Bullying from Peers, Teachers
Over the past few days we've bee reporting on Taylor Ellis. Ellis's school, Sheridan High School is refusing to run a yearbook profile on Ellis because he's openly gay.
The disgusting censorship led to the Human Rights Campaign staging a rally at the Arkansas State Capitol demanding the school change its mind. Instead, the school administrators dug in their heels. Ellis's case is now drawing national attention and has been featured on CNN.
Sheridan School District Superintendent Brenda Haynes released a statement:
“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook...It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the district have the obligation to make decisions which are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."
But what's happening back at school is even more disgusting. Ellis tells Slate:
Today was my first day back [after a school trip]. People were talking about it while we were on our trip, texting all of us, making comments. I was about to lose it...
At first, everybody kept quiet. I’m in choir—that’s a good group. All the guys were nice. People were telling me I’m doing a good thing. My teacher said if I had any problems in any other classes I could just come back and sit in her room. … Geometry was fine, too. The teacher was fine with it; she understood and talked to me a little bit. She told me, “it’ll all pass, it’ll all be fine.” She’s a really good teacher. I don’t think she said anything negative to me.
[By] fifth period I was ready for the day to be over. All these people were negative, quiet—just weird. I was ready to be home, just trying to get away from everything. Then I got in the Instagram page someone made that said “Sheridan School = No Gays.” I was looking at all the people [at Sheridan] who liked it and who followed it—people I don’t need to talk to. Three of them were in that class, sitting right across from the room from me.
A screenshot of the page, which is still live, is below. Ellis adds:
I asked [a few other students] why they were following this hate page [on Instagram]. And my teacher said, you don’t need to be talking about that in class. You need to go sit down. You have assignments to do. This teacher has never gotten onto me, never had a problem with me. But now she just kept saying stuff and I was just sitting there, shaking and crying. That’s what I do when I get mad—I shake and cry.
Stay strong. Taylor. We are with you.