A high school valedictorian in Kentucky was barred from delivering his commencement address on Friday, after the school determined that it was “too angry and confrontational.” You mean to tell me that a student might be feeling disillusioned in 2018, a year that has already produced 23 school shootings in just 21 weeks? Balderdash!
Christian Bales, a new graduate of Holy Cross in Covington, Kentucky, wrote an impassioned speech cheering the power of advocacy, citing specifically the work of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas teenagers in Parkland, Florida, but also those at his own school, like those who attended the anti-abortion rally March for Life (can’t win ‘em all, I guess). The point, Bales said, was that “young people must be willing to speak candidly about issues, and we mustn’t tremble in the face of the institutions that try to silence us.”
But it so happens that Holy Cross is one such institution, Bales learned on Friday, after the school’s principal informed him that the Diocese of Covington took issue with the content of the speech—but left him no time to revise it.
“I did not think the speech was polarizing at all,” he told the New York Times.
Bales, who is gay and gender nonconforming, was informed ahead of graduation that he was required to attend the ceremony “in appropriate male dress,” meaning slacks and no makeup. He honored the dress code, but apparently that degree of conformity was still not enough for the school, which deep-sixed not only his speech but also that of Student Council President Katherine Frantz, which was found to be similarly “political.”
But rather than let their speeches go unheard, Bales and Frantz found a different solution. With the help of Bales’ father, the students procured a bullhorn and delivered their addresses after the official ceremony had ended, with students and teachers forming a circle around them.
“I think I’m going to keep fighting for what I believe in,” Bales told CBS News. “I’m going to keep using my megaphone and intensifying my voice.”
You can read Bales speech here.