Kearney School District removes 2 gay students’ quotes from year - KCTV5


Kearney School District removes 2 gay students’ quotes from yearbook

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(Credit: Human Rights Campaign - Kansas City) (Credit: Human Rights Campaign - Kansas City)

Two openly gay students in the Kearney School District say their quotes were removed from the yearbook without warning. KCTV5 News went to the district to find out why.

The new yearbook for 2017 is hot off the press. Kearney High graduates Joey Slivinski and Thomas Swartz submitted their senior quotes before graduation just like every senior, but the school removed them.

“I went to find my quote in the yearbook but, nothing was there,” Slivinski said.

“It was a blank picture under my name,” Swartz said.

Both of the teens are openly gay and they each chose a quote they found funny and inspirational.

Slivinski said, “Mine was, ‘Of course I dress well. I didn't spend all that time in the closet for nothing.’"

Swartz said his was, "If Harry Potter taught us anything, it’s that no one should have to live in the closet.”

The district deemed those quotes offensive.

Swartz and Slivinski feel the district was wrong.

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

The Kearney School District said it has reached out to the boys and their families, and said that it didn't intend to offend them.

In a statement, district administrators explained their yearbook policy to KCTV5. They wrote:

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

“They need to know what they do is wrong,” Swartz said. “I want to tell my story about what happened.”

The two graduates plan to make stickers to insert their quips into their yearbooks and their friends' yearbooks.

“I'm proud to be from Kearney and I'm proud to be who I am,” Slivinski said. “I'm just disappointed at what happened.”

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