Critics Lambast Censoring of NYC Public School Student’s Marriage Equality Speech
A fifth-grader in a public school in the New York City Borough of Queens
was prohibited from giving a speech as part of a school-wide competition because of his topic -- support for gay marriage, the New York Post reported.
PS 195's principal Berry Bailey told Kameron Slade, 10, that he would be booted from the competition if he did not change the topic of his speech. The incident gained significant media attention -- and plenty of criticism. Typical was this comment on Towleroad: "What the hell is wrong with that principal? NY has legal marriage equality and there's nothing offensive or sexually oriented about the speech. I don't give a rat's-ass whether some parents don't like it. Since when is a school's curriculum determined by what the parents prefer?"
To quell the gathering firestorm, the city's Department of Education held a sudden assembly and decided that Slade could deliver his speech but parents had the option of preventing their children from attending the event.
"It's something that the principal felt that she needed to do more due diligence with her parent community because of the topic of the speech itself," said School Chancellor Dennis Walcott. "This extra day will give her the ability to reach out to those parents to make them aware of the content of the speech - because we're talking about an elementary school."
Slade's mother, who has remains anonymous, told NY1 that she is "really upset" by the school's decision.
"[Same-sex marriage] is on the news," she said. "It's a part of our lives now. They need to open up. The New York City Department of Education needs to open up."
Once the department ruled that her son could read his speech, she said she was happy with the outcome.
"I'm really glad that the DOE has took the time to pay attention," she said. "I feel like progress is being made."
The 10 year old's speech applauds President Obama's recent endorsement of marriage equality.
"Like President Obama, I believe that all people should have the right to marry whoever they want. Marriage is about love, support, and commitment. So who are we to judge? If we judge people like this, this is a form of prejudice," Slade says.
"I think adults must realize that as children get older, they become aware of these mature issues that are going on in the world," the speech continues. "If children read or watch the news, they can learn about things like same-gender marriage, so what's the point in trying to hide it?"
"I believe that same-gender marriage should be accepted worldwide and that parents and teachers should start to discuss these issues without shame to their children," the boy concludes.
Watch a video of Slade read his speech below: