Arkansas | Censorship | Education | Human Rights Campaign | News

Arkansas Superintendent Defends Censorship of Gay Student from Yearbook: VIDEO


On Monday we reported that Sheridan High School in Arkansas was refusing to run a student's yearbook profile because the student, Taylor Ellis, is openly gay.

The Human Rights Campaign, which sent a letter to school officials demanding the profile be replaced after the "unconscionable" decision to exclude it, rallied on the steps of the state capitol in Little Rock on Tuesday, led by HRC President and native Arkansan Chad Griffin. Ellis was also there.

Watch a news report on the rally, and interviews with Ellis and the yearbook editor who exposed the censorship, AFTER THE JUMP...

HaynesMeanwhile, the Sheridan School District Superintendent Brenda Haynes is digging in her heels.

Said Haynes in a statement to the Arkansas News:

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 The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook...It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the district have the obligation to make decisions which are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

Watch KATV's report on yesterday's rally, AFTER THE JUMP...


KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. What can HRC possibly accomplish there? This school needs a letter from the ACLU.

    Posted by: trevor | Mar 19, 2014 8:47:37 AM

  2. re: "“We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community."

    MEMO to Sheridan School District Superintendent Brenda Haynes: gay students are PART OF YOUR COMMUNITY, you raving bigot.

    So are GAY PARENTS, who are school tax paying parents and citizens.

    Branda Haynes: go to one of your schools' libraries. Find a dictionary. Look up the word "inalienable", then gat back to us.

    Posted by: Strepsi | Mar 19, 2014 8:48:10 AM

  3. you mean"EXCLUSIONARY" decisions,Brenda??...raving bigot is CORRECT

    Posted by: codyj | Mar 19, 2014 9:03:48 AM

  4. "... to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school."

    Is the mission of the school to preach heterosexual supremacy? Is it to promote homophobic bigotry? Because if it is to prepare students for life, then they are failing miserably.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Mar 19, 2014 9:04:38 AM

  5. Too bad. This is just a reminder to that kid and everyone else: Get out of Arkansas.

    Posted by: Kenny | Mar 19, 2014 9:06:53 AM

  6. It amazes me that they still think that policies as stupid and bigoted as this can make us either grow or shrink in number. Gay people exist in spite of your idiotic way of thinking. We will always exist. We always have. Your policies don't make us get larger or smaller in number. The only thing that is growing is the number of people that now recognize that.

    Posted by: Dave. | Mar 19, 2014 9:08:46 AM

  7. Well, isn't that special? They are protecting the interests of their community. And, the kid belongs to a special interest group. Nice REPUBLICAN ideas. Voters could change that. But, they won't, at least until something that they are, be it black, female, poor or such comes up.

    Posted by: Michael | Mar 19, 2014 9:10:54 AM

  8. This is outrageous and we've just had enough of it. It's too bad Ms Haynes is going to lose her job but her ilk and her day are over. This is war and humane good sense is winning. Pack up your stupid Bible and move your cherry-picking bigotry back out to the sticks where it can die the slow death it has chosen.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Mar 19, 2014 9:15:18 AM

  9. Women hates gays....

    Posted by: styler | Mar 19, 2014 9:20:33 AM

  10. If you are GLBT and living in Arkansas, get out as soon as possible. The state doesn't deserve you.

    I left Baton Rouge, Louisiana 27 years ago and moved to decision I ever made. Me and my hubby had a chance purchase my father's house (by relocating down there). Financially, we would have made a fortune.

    Out of curiosity, we checked the HRC ratings of the two cities:

    Chicago: 100 out of 100
    Baton Rouge: 7 out of 100

    Decision Made!

    Posted by: wct | Mar 19, 2014 9:31:10 AM

  11. I grew up in Arkansas. I got the hell out. My relatives there always ask if I'm ever coming back. No. Never.

    Posted by: kit | Mar 19, 2014 9:32:16 AM

  12. Here is the text of what Taylor Ellis wrote according to Fox News 16.

    Let's get it out there for everyone to read Andy and support this brave young man.

    Here's a copy of the full profile, removed from the Sheridan High School yearbook:

    "I use to be scared to say that I'm gay," Taylor Ellis, junior, said. "It's not fun keeping secrets; after I told everyone, it felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders."
    Ellis's "secret" was first shared in the summer of 2012, with his friend Joelle Curry, junior, and his mother, Lynn Tiley.
    "I wasn't surprised at all," Tiley said. "I don't care because he's my son, and I know he's happier."
    Ellis, who said he struggles with clinical depression, had just recently stopped taking his medication before telling his family.
    "I was going crazy, just wanting to tell people after I stopped taking them," Ellis said.
    However, Ellis waited until spring break of 2013 to tell the rest of his peers; he did so through the social media site, Instagram.
    "I put it in my bio, and hashtagged pictures," Ellis said. "When people would ask me about it, I just said 'yes I am,' and that was that."
    Although the thought of coming out, and the repercussions of doing so, frightened Ellis at first, he found that most of the student body, as well as the teachers, were very accepting of him.
    "I wrote about it in Mrs. Williams class; it was when I first came out," Ellis said. "She told me she was glad I shared that with her. We had a stronger bond after that, I think."
    "He had poured himself into it," Summer Williams, sophomore English teacher, said. "It was one of the best ones I read. I was just so proud of his openness, and his honesty. It was a risk; sharing that with his classmates, but they were very accepting. It was good for him. I could tell he felt better after writing about it."
    Ellis found that while people do not treat him with disrespect, some do seem to be more distant.
    "Some guys are more reserved around me now," Ellis said. "But not a lot of people have been mean about it, thank God. I'm actually in a good situation. I'm very lucky."

    Posted by: Jonnycakes | Mar 19, 2014 9:43:52 AM

  13. Because if we all agree to pretend there are no gay people, that will mean gays don't exist.

    This is merely an illogical extension of the illogical base assumption that if we all believe in an Invisible Sky Monster that will cause him to exist.

    So, internally, she is consistently illogical.

    Posted by: Steve Rider | Mar 19, 2014 10:19:05 AM

  14. Ok, Just a second.......
    Do any other yearbook student profiles list their sexuality? Just saying. Our desire for equality should not rest just on information of what we do at home.

    It can be argued that all yearbook pictures provide information on sexuality (or its availability, which is the case. ha!).

    If this is an attempt to join that club perhaps Taylor should have had his senior pictures taken with an outfit that "would leave no doubt" of who he is. Then a stronger case could be made of discrimination. It would be a more effective way to destroy that self-perpetuating provincial desire to whisper defamation, leading to quiet discrimination.

    Posted by: gunther | Mar 19, 2014 10:27:18 AM

  15. here is the actual "mission" statement from the high school's website:

    "Mission Statement - Sheridan High School provides opportunities for students to achieve their highest potential in learning, integrity and citizenship within a safe school environment."

    doesn't sound so safe to me and 'citizenship' has equality as one of its cornerstones, as far as i remember.

    Posted by: mike/ | Mar 19, 2014 10:39:46 AM

  16. What are the "seven profiles" she refers to?

    Posted by: Dent | Mar 19, 2014 11:01:43 AM

  17. What are the "seven profiles" she refers to?

    Posted by: Dent | Mar 19, 2014 11:01:49 AM

  18. "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."

    In more and more high schools we are seeing the students are the ones who have to lead by example and not let the "adults" who are leading with their small mindedness guide them in reverse.

    Posted by: Hey Darlin' | Mar 19, 2014 11:23:29 AM

  19. "We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community." So she is making a judgement here indicating that being gay and coming to terms with that is the "wrong" direction? Seriously F-Off.

    Posted by: Ted | Mar 19, 2014 11:34:33 AM

  20. The State of Arkansas considers the Sheridan School District as "needing improvement":

    The 18th edition of the Report Card on American Education from ALEC (a conservative educational advocacy group) shows that Arkansas is 45th in educational excellence (out of 50); however liberal groups denounce ALEC--but it's interesting that Haynes own ideological groups don't think her practices are effective.

    She, like Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, are rouged pigs, has obviously strained the left side of her brain and let the right side atrophy. Children, this is why testing of cosmetics is essential--they obviously destroy the brain.

    Posted by: woodroad34 | Mar 19, 2014 11:36:18 AM


    Posted by: Mike | Mar 19, 2014 11:41:54 AM

  22. I say everyone should contact the school district to let them know they are not acting in the best interest of the students. They should be teaching acceptance and tolerance, not hate and bigotry.

    Posted by: Craig | Mar 19, 2014 11:50:18 AM

  23. Styler is Rick. Rick hates women. Rick hates gays. Rick is the WORST.

    Posted by: Tyler | Mar 19, 2014 12:18:00 PM

  24. Trust the pathetic adults to feel emasculated by the strength, integrity and defiant courage of a young gay person who refuses to cower before them.

    I wonder how Brenda Haynes would feel having a record of her students committing suicide as part of her school legacy?

    I remember being a freshman in high school, getting my yearbook at the end of the school year and seeing two graduating males mentioning being gay, and PROUD, in their graduation blurbs. you best believe that inspired me.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Mar 19, 2014 12:44:19 PM

  25. Hope her c*nt rots out! For they are to stinkiest things on the planet....stinkier than diarrhea.

    Posted by: ToThePoint | Mar 19, 2014 3:56:05 PM

  26. 1 2 »

Post a comment


« «Rachel Maddow Reports on U.S. Plan to Send 'Experts' to Uganda to Refute Anti-Gay Law: VIDEO« «