Two Missouri teenagers who are openly gay said their school district deleted their quotes from the school’s yearbook without their knowledge.
Joey Slavinsky and Thomas Swartz said they were shocked to see the Kearney School District has removed their quotes from the year book and left instead a blank space underneath their photos, KCTV 5 reported.
“I went to find my quote in the yearbook but nothing was there,” Swartz told KCTV 5. “It was a blank picture under my name.”
The two young men said they chose quotes that were related to their sexuality.
“Mine was, ‘Of course I dress well. I didn’t spend all that time in the closet for nothing,’” Slavinsky said.
Swartz said his quote was: “If ‘Harry Potter’ taught us anything, it’s that no one should have to live in the closet.”
The school district claimed the quotes were offensive although the two young men believe the district was incorrect.
The Kearney School District told Fox News that it contacted the teenagers and their families to apologize.
The school district said in a statement: “District administrators were made aware of concerns regarding the removal of senior quotes from the school yearbook. Each year, graduating seniors are provided an opportunity to pick a favorite quote to be placed in the yearbook. In an effort to protect our students, quotes that could potentially offend another student or groups of students are not published.”
“It is the school’s practice to err on the side of caution. Doing so in this case had the unintentional consequence of offending the very students the practice was designed to protect. We sincerely apologize to those students.”
“All KSD staff understand the importance of inclusion and acceptance especially in an educational setting. We work diligently to help every student feel safe, supported, and included. District staff participate in ongoing training around issues of diversity and support student organizations that do the same. That being said, we acknowledge our mistake and will use it as a learning opportunity to improve in the future.”
The statement was signed by the school’s principal Dave Schwarzenbach and the district’s superintendent, Bill Nicely. It's unclear if other quotes were removed from the school's yearbook.
“They need to know what they do is wrong,” Swartz said. “I want to tell my story about what happened.”
Swartz and Slavinsky said they intend to make labels with their intended quotes and stick them in their friend’s yearbooks.
“I'm proud to be from Kearney and I'm proud to be who I am,” Slavinsky said. “I'm just disappointed at what happened.”