Private school under fire after gay valedictorian says his speech was banned

A Lutheran private school in Wisconsin reportedly axed its valedictorian’s graduation speech based on its reference to his sexuality.

Nat Werth said he planned to discuss what it was like for him as a gay student at the religious school. Specifically, he planned to share his opinion that views held by many Christians on the subject are “outdated, mistranslated, or misinterpreted in their respectively Biblical, cultural and historical contexts.”

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School administrators said he couldn’t give the speech as written, he said, and barred him from speaking altogether after he volunteered to work with them to strip the passages they found objectionable.

Werth said it was “kind of difficult to watch” the salutatorian deliver a speech and not give his own. It was reportedly the final insult after a high school career marked by issues he believes were related to his sexual orientation.

“I want to leave behind a school that won’t treat anyone the way that I was treated,” Werth said.

Sheboygan Lutheran’s executive director did not speak specifically about the graduate’s claims, but noted that the school handbook contains policies “that talk about our faith and our belief system and what it’s based on.”

Since it is a private school, students have more limited free speech rights regarding commencement addresses.

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Categories: U.S.

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