School officials black out gay student's yearbook photo

Filed under: Teens, Media, Day Care & Education, That's Entertainment

I remember each year when the school yearbook would come out, the first thing we did was flip furiously through the pages of our books looking for candid shots of ourselves. Everyone gets the required, posed photo in the book, but having your photo show up elsewhere was considered a sign of popularity. This kind of stuff was important to us.

At East Side High School in Newark, New Jersey, students can actually pay $150 to have a personal page of photos included in the yearbook. 18-year-old Andre Jackson paid up for his own page of pictures and was surprised to find that the shot of him kissing his boyfriend had been blacked out with a marker. According to the superintendent of the district, his photo was deemed "suggestive", although similar photos of heterosexual couples were not blacked out.

After critics labeled this as discrimination, the school apologized. The district issued a statement which reads, in part: "Superintendent Marion A. Bolden personally apologizes to Mr. [Andre] Jackson and regrets any embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to him." Unwanted attention? This statement was printed in the New York Times!

Jackson says he actually learned of the apology through the media and is not satisfied with the statement. "I'm not looking to accept the apology," he said in a phone interview. He wants a personal apology and says the yearbook incident has revived tensions in his family, some of whom he has quarreled with because he is gay.

The school is offering students the opportunity to swap their yearbooks for an uncensored version that includes an unmarked photo of Jackson kissing his boyfriend. That's not good enough for Jackson, either. He thinks everyone should get his uncensored page of photos whether they request it or not. "It's not about who wants one," he said. "It's about what happened."

It has been suggested that these school officials need some education about discrimination and censorship. I would say so.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.