Valedictorian banned from delivering 'political' graduation speech

COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - The Valedictorian of Holy Cross High School says the Diocese of Covington didn't allow him to give his graduation speech.

Christian Bales said he thought his speech was 'fine.'

"I didn't think it was very polarizing. It was about empowerment through youth. And how youth is more of a mindset rather than something that is physical." Bales said.

However, the school's diocese disagreed and said in part, "...When the proposed speeches were received, they were found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church."

Bales, who is gay, said he wonders if the rejection had to do with his sexual orientation. Bales also called himself a 'non-conformist', saying he wore high heels and a floral jumpsuit to Prom.

Bonnie Meyer with Northern Kentucky Fairness, a gay advocacy group, said she's disappointed the school didn't find a way to work this out.

"Do you think that if it was late and because he was talking about social just issues they wanted it on time so they could review it? I can't say what they were thinking but I would think that a school would want their valedictorian to speak." said Meyer, "and I would think the school would work with them so they could deliver that message."

Bales still found a way to give his speech. He used a megaphone and gave his speech out front of Holy Cross High School. He said he was 'very happy' to have the support of his classmates.

"What I've been taught about the catholic faith is it's about love and tolerance and acceptance of all people. I think that with my experience with the Diocese of Covington it's kind of been antithetical to that. But I've faced a lot of opposition just based on who I am as a person. I don't violently oppose them ever, it's just been me being myself is faced with opposition." Bales said, "I think that might sacare them. I know that a lot of people are set in their ways are afraid of change, but it's coming and I'm a prime example of that."

The Diocese of Covington released a statement saying their rejection came in part because the speech was submitted after the deadline for review.

School officials and representatives of the Diocese of Covington reserve the right to review and approve all student speeches to be presented in public at high school graduations. All speeches must be submitted in a timely manner.  The student speeches for the Holy Cross High School graduation were not submitted for review before the deadline.  When the proposed speeches were received, they were found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

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