Metro Weekly

Gay valedictorian gives graduation speech through bullhorn after Catholic school rejects it

Holy Cross deemed Bales' speech too political for graduation, so he delivered it outside instead

Christian Bales — Photo: WKRC

A gay valedictorian at a Kentucky Catholic school gave his graduation speech through a bullhorn after his school’s diocese said his speech was too “angry and confrontational” to be heard.

Christian Bales was supposed to deliver his commencement speech on Friday, but his principal and other officials told him that he would not be doing so because the Diocese of Covington deemed it too political.

“I did not think the speech was polarizing at all,” he said to The New York Times, adding he was told there would be no time to revise it.

Bales, who is gay and identifies as gender non-conforming, did not address his sexuality or gender identity in his speech, but did discuss how the Parkland tragedy reflected his generation’s drive for change.

“I’ve learned that the best way to attain change is to be a visible example in our world,” he wrote. “We must plan to continue to utilize our voices in order to better the lives of all those we encounter.”

Prior to the canceled speech, Bales’ mother, Gillian Marksberry, received a call from the principal requesting that her son show up “in appropriate male dress,” without any makeup or hair accessories.

Student body president Katherine Frantz was also supposed to give a speech, but had hers cut as well.

o right the injustice, Bales’ father offered to bring a bullhorn to the ceremony. After the students had graduated with their diplomas and everyone was filing out of the Thomas More College’s Convocation center, both Frantz and Bales delivered their speeches to a crowd of students, teachers and family members.

“It was very empowering,” Bales said. “The people who were surrounding us were the ideal audience.”

While the communications director for the diocese did not respond for comment, they provided a statement to television station WLWT, saying the speeches were not approved due to missing the formal deadline, along with the message they conveyed.

“When the proposed speeches were received they were found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church,” it said.

Bales said he was unaware of missing any deadline and is not sure whether or not him being gay or gender-nonconforming played a part in his speech getting axed. Regardless, he wants this ordeal to teach everyone involved a lesson.

“That is not something they would admit to us,” he said. “I don’t want to wish any ill will to the diocese or the school, but I want this to be a learning experience for everybody.”

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Shelf Wood

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