;There’s a lot of perks to graduating high school. Aside from the main one — never having to go to high school again — there’s also stuff like getting a color photo in the yearbook. And with the color photo usually comes the senior quote, a pithy, witty bit of wisdom you want to share for future generations of bored students killing time in the school library leafing through old yearbooks.
Unfortunately, two Missouri students, Joey Slavinsky and Thomas Swartz of Kearney, a suburb of Kansas City, were denied that perk. Their quotes were removed, replaced with blank space. The two seniors are openly gay; their quotes referenced coming out.
Slivinski’s quote was “Of course I dress well, I didn’t spend all that time in the closet for nothing.” Swartz’s quote was “If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one deserves to live in the closet.”
The Kearney School District found these quotes offensive and removed them. The district didn’t inform the students, leaving them to discover the censorship only when they got the books.
When confronted, the school district said it contacted the students’ families and said it didn’t mean to offend them. The district also released a public statement to KCTV5, the local CBS affiliate.
“Dear KHS Families,
“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.
“Sincerely, Dave Schwarzenbach KHS Principal
“Dr. Bill Nicely KSD Superintendent of Schools”
The students are planning to make stickers to insert their quotes back into their and their friends’ yearbooks.
Photo by spxChrome via iStock