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.

Chad_griffinThe 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:

Haynes“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 The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook…It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the district have the obligation to make decisions which are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:

T_ellisToday 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.



  1. Lymis says

    These yearbook things really chafe me in particular because, even though the kid is going to win, he still won’t be in the yearbook, because it will have long been printed and distributed.

    Even in the cases where they subsequently print and mail a supplemental page, it doesn’t fix it.

    Not that I’m saying that the bullying is less of an issue than the book, but that even if he wins, the bastards have permanently ruined something he’ll never get back.

    How much more obvious a form of gay erasure can there be?

  2. RCChicago says

    Feel free to speak out. Here are the emails to the superintendent and the principal:

    Here’s my message:

    From your school’s website: “Sheridan High School provides opportunities for students to achieve their highest potential in learning, integrity and citizenship within a safe school environment.”

    Mr. Williams and Ms. Hayes, it appears there is a footnote to your claim that allows the school to exclude certain students from the benefits of protection and potential. It’s disgraceful that a young man is being singled out for “special interests” because of who and what he is. It is especially distressful when educators take actions based on ignorance rather than learning. I dearly hope that you eventually learn that your stance on how to deal with this issue has been deeply flawed and completely wrong.

  3. rroberts says

    A message for Taylor Ellis from Dr. Seuss:

    You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

    Keep your chin up, kid.

  4. Mitch says

    Taylor, your story is popular in part because you are being treated unfairly. More importantly, it is popular because of the support you have from so many people you don’t even know! I wish you all the best in getting through this rough time and discovering a world where acceptance outweighs bigotry.

  5. Jude says

    Taylor, all of this is making you stronger. Why are there so many success stories (both personal and outward) within the GLBT community? Because we endure challenges like this and become more courageous people as a result. We become more compassionate as a result. If you’re in business, you’ll be a better leader. If you’re in the arts, you’ll have more to say.

    You did the right thing making this an issue. You have support from a huge community – never forget that!

  6. Lucas says

    @JMARTINDALE, yeah, high school can be rough, but bullying is just as bad within the gay community. The “mean gays” in the community are probably even worse than the bullies in high school.

  7. says

    I’ve emailed the school. My heart just broke reading this. A brave brave BRAVE young man, facing hatred and ambivalence from the people whose JOB it is to ensure his safety and well-being.

    I literally have tears in my eyes. This kid’s strength and resilience are remarkable. We have young kids taking the weight of anti-gay hatred onto THEIR shoulders – while a world of hateful adults, gay and straight, sit and do nothing to make his life better.

  8. Richard Harney says

    If a teacher was that rude to me, I would go wipe everything off her desk and walk myself to the principals office. Did that one time and got a 1 day in school suspension. Totally worth it.

  9. JT says

    Brenda Haynes better hope she never loses that job because she won’t be able to get another one as a superintendent. Hang tough, you will make it through Taylor.

  10. Joshua Deaver-Ryan says

    Whomever said history repeats itself said more than a mouthful. It shouldn’t but it does continue to amaze me the level of ignorance and hatred with which human beings seem to exhibit. Targeting an inidividual for any personal characteristic…. race, religion, sexuality, gender identification is ludicrous. How is it that we continue to not learn from Hitler’s demise, the dreams of Martin Luther King, Jr. and now the strength and courage of this young man? We as a nation stood against Adolph when he tortured the Jewish people… a people born into that life…. because it is WRONG! No one called Judaism a ‘special interest’. We stood by our African American brothers and sisters to tear down the discriminatory acts of segregation and oppression…. no one called this a special interest. This isn’t joining the FBLA because he wants to be the next Trump…. this is standing up and saying I am gay and I deserve to be heard just like the next student. I commend this young man for standing up….. I didn’t when I was in school but I certainly do today. We MUST send the message to all of these so-called ‘leaders’ that it is their job to protect the student regardless of what they ‘think’ on a personal level. And it is most certainly NOT their job to teach and promote discrimination, censorship or oppression!

  11. says

    It’s sad that this kid is being ostracised for being himself, and the @$$holes that have a problem with it don’t even have the b@lls to say it to his face. Instead, they hide behind their Facebook accounts, while that boy is showing more courage than all of them combined.

  12. absolutely says

    Thanks RCCHICAGO, I sent them both a letter last night, and sent Brenda another today. I think I may just keep messaging them for a while, until I’ve thoroughly exhausted every way I can think of scolding them or until I’ve had a ‘dialogue’ with them.

Leave A Reply