Clueless in New Jersey

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A senior at East Side High School in Newark, NJ, had purchased (for $150, no less) a page in the school’s yearbook to commemorate his high school experiences. Included among the montage of photos printed on that page was one of him kissing his boyfriend on the lips (at left).  

This photo has been 'blacked out' of a high school yearbook while opposite sex couples photos were permitted to remain. (180 height x 240 width x 41007 bytes)
Newark Star-Ledger

But, before the yearbook was distributed, school officials had that photo blacked out with a marker in every copy of the yearbook, deciding that it was easier to black out the”suggestive”photo than to tear out the whole page (which was apparently their first reaction). Nevertheless, the school officials left untouched the photos of heterosexual couples kissing that appear in the yearbook, including one that appeared on the page right after the blacked out photo of the gay couple kissing.

Yet, perhaps the most galling line from this story  in the Star-Ledger has the superintendent of schools stating that she will apologize to the student”if he believes the district did something to hurt him because of his orientation.”Translation: objectively speaking, the superintendent believes that the school did nothing wrong; however, if, for some reason, the student somehow feels hurt by this action, then she will apologize to him in order to make him feel better. Apparently, the superintendent has not the first clue of what an”atmosphere of tolerance for gay students”might look like, despite claiming to foster just such an atmosphere in Newark’s schools.

-Anthony C. Infanti

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0 Responses to Clueless in New Jersey

  1. The NJ Law Against Discrimination covers sexual orientation discrimination, right? So this kid obviously has a claim. Even if it doesn’t, this is also clear sex discrimination. If he had been a female student and done the same thing (kissed that other guy in that picture), there would have been no action taken by the school district. Plain ol’ sex discrimination.

  2. Bridget Crawford says:

    On June 28, 2007, NY Times had an editorial denouncing the Newark superintendent’s actions:

    “Discrimination is disturbing wherever it shows its face. But it is especially deplorable in public schools, which are supposed to uphold the values of tolerance and basic fairness. Marion Bolden, superintendent of Newark’s schools, seemed to forget that recently when she ordered one high school to blot out a yearbook picture of a gay student and his boyfriend kissing. Ms. Bolden said she thought the picture : which was covered over with black marker : was”suggestive”and”looked fairly illicit.”Photos of heterosexual couples kissing were left untouched….In schools which are supposed to teach the value of free speech to a free society, the Soviet-style impulse to go immediately for the black marker also needs rethinking.”