Missouri school apologizes for censoring gay teens' yearbook quotes

Published: Aug. 19, 2017 at 7:28 PM

Eric DuVall

Aug. 19 (UPI) -- A Missouri school district said administrators censored lighthearted yearbook quotes by a pair of gay students celebrating their sexual orientation because they could have "offended" other students.

The students, Joey Slivinski and Thomas Swartz, each selected quotes expressing their sexual orientation to appear beneath their senior portraits.

The quote Slivinski submitted read: "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."

Despite the submissions, when the yearbooks were delivered recently, they found blank spaces beneath their pictures.

Administrators at the Kearney School District outside Kansas City said the quotes were pulled out of an abundance of caution.

"In an effort to protect our students, quotes that could potentially offend another student or groups of students are not published," the district said in a statement. "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."

Slivinski told KCTV-Kansas City he was "disappointed" at the school's decision.

"I'm comfortable in my own skin and with who I am," Slivinski said. "It felt like the district took that from me."

Both teens said they planned to have stickers made of their quotes to fill in the blank spots in friends' yearbooks.

In apologizing, the district said it would use the incident as a "learning opportunity to improve in the future."

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