A Catholic high school in Kentucky banned a valedictorian from delivering his graduation speech because it was 'too political'. So, he rebelled, grabbed a megaphone, and delivered it anyway.
Christian Bales, 18, was due to give his high school valedictorian speech at the Holy Cross High School in Covington, Kentucky, when he was told on the morning of graduation that he wasn't allowed to deliver it.
His friend and student council president Katherine Frantz's speech was also banned. Both students believed their speeches had been approved when they were pulled 'out of the blue', according to WCPO.com.
So instead, he found an unusual way to get his voice heard. Grabbing a megaphone, he read out his speech on the lawn of the Conmore Convocation Centre at Thomas More College.
He used his speech to address progressive and wide-ranging topics, including abortion rights, gun-law control, and the removal of a confederate statue.
The opening line of his speech was taken from the mantra of the Stoneman Douglas teenagers, who were subjected to a high school shooting on February 18.
The young people will win because we’re finished being complacent.
There’s a misguided notion that wisdom is directly proportional to age, but we’re disproving that daily. Sometimes the wisest are the youngest in our lives, the ones who haven’t yet been desensitized to the atrocities of our world. Therefore, we young people must be the educators.
The young people must be willing to speak candidly about issues, and we mustn’t tremble in the face of the institutions that try to silence us.
Bales continued to encourage his classmates to raise their voices:
The only way we can stop being impactful is if we let go of our youth and stop advocating for our core values,” Bales said. “In my experience at Holy Cross I’ve learned that the best way to attain change is to be a visible example in our world, and we must plan to continue to utilise our voices in order to better the lives of all those we encounter.
When it was banned, Tim Fitzgerald, the diocese spokesman, released a statement explaining their reasoning:
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' mother, Gillian Marksberry, however, said she was uncomfortable with the decision. She had described the decision that he wouldn't be allowed to speak as 'shocking' and 'very, very emotional'.
You've never called me about my child, but you're calling someone else who doesn't know my child about my child?
Despite this, Marksberry said the school staff in general had been supportive of Bales, who is openly gay, and had found ways to 'help him embrace himself'.
Despite the debacle, the teen wasn't dissuaded from raising his voice for what he believes in again. Speaking to WKRC he said:
I think I’m going to keep fighting for what I believe in. I’m going to keep using my megaphone and intensifying my voice