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Gay Arkansas teen says his student profile was pulled from yearbook

March 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM   |   Comments

SHERIDAN, Ark., March 20 (UPI) -- A high school student in Arkansas says a personality profile of him was pulled from his school yearbook because he is openly gay.

Seven student profiles were pulled from the Sheridan High School yearbook because Taylor Ellis, 17, talked about coming out in his interview, CNN reported.

"I'm already openly gay, so there's no reason that it should affect how people see me," Ellis told CNN affiliate KATV, Little Rock.

"We have a good idea why they're not going into the yearbook," he said. "They don't want to just throw out the gay kid's interview."

Sheridan Superintendent Brenda Haynes said: "We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook."

"We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our own policies," Haynes said. "It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so."

Ellis' mother, Lynn Tiley, said her son's school principal, Rodney Williams, contacted her after the profile was written.

"I didn't understand, because there had been no problems, so I ask him, 'have you had threats?'" Tiley told KATV. "He said, 'no, ma'am, just his well-being.'"

Human Rights Campaign representatives have spoken out on Ellis' behalf, urging Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and the state's education commissioner, Tom Kimbrell, to intervene.

"This discriminatory exclusion by Sheridan High School administrators has nothing to do with Arkansas values," said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

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