Openly gay student says school won't publish his yearbook bio

SHERIDAN, Ark. (KATV) - An Arkansas high school student isgetting national attention after the district chose not to publish his profilein the yearbook. The yearbooks' assistant editor says it's because he is gay.

Six student profiles have been removed from the SheridanHigh School's yearbook including one junior's story.

Taylor Ellis came out to his family and peers a year ago andwanted to share how well the community has accepted him, but he says hisprincipal told him his yearbook profile was too personal.

"I'm already openly gay, so there's no reason that itshould affect how people see me," said Ellis.

Ellis, 17, is a junior attending Sheridan High School andwas supposed to be featured as one of the student profiles in this year's YellowJackets Yearbook.

"Whenever we do them we need to find people whoactually have a story to tell, something that's interesting and that wouldn'tnormally be featured," said Yellow Jackets Yearbook Assistant EditorHannah Bruner.{}{}{}

That's when Bruner thought Ellis' story would be interestingto tell since he had come out to the community a year earlier.

"It's a big thing in Sheridan to be gay. That'ssomething that doesn't get told a lot," said Bruner.

After spending weeks writing the piece, Bruner found out theSheridan School District was not going to allow it to be printed and removedall the profiles.

"Of course we have a good idea of why they're not goingin the yearbook," said Ellis. "They don't want to just throw out thegay kid's interview."

Both students said the profile was not his "coming outstory" but rather how the community has responded.

"Censorship has been a problem for the yearbook in thepast, but no one has taken the initiative to do anything and it's scary," saidBruner.

"They're history. When I'm done with Sheridan, I'm donewith Sheridan; I have one more year and after that I'll thank God that I'm notthere anymore," said Ellis.

The school district responded Tuesday, saying the decisionsmade have to benefit all of the students, not just a small group.

"We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our ownpolicies. It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for theoperation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which areconsistent with the mission of our school. We have done so," saidSuperintendent Dr. Brenda Haynes.

As a result, the seven profiles have been removed from thebook.


The Human Rights Campaign has stepped in and is now asking ArkansasGov. Mike Beebe and the state's education commissioner to get involved. TheHuman Rights Campaign is holding a press conference on the State Capitol stepsTuesday afternoon.