Civil rights group urging Sheridan Schools to reverse gay profile decision

LITTLE ROCK (KATV)--Representatives of a national civil rights organization stand on the state capitol steps today to take issue with an Arkansas school district's decision to remove student yearbook profiles.

As we first reported yesterday, the yearbook's assistant editor says it's because one of the profiles features a gay student.

The Human Rights Campaign held the press-conference on Tuesday.

The president, Chad Griffin, an Arkansas native came to send a message to Sheridan School Administrators to reverse their decision; however the school is not budging.

"This discriminatory exclusion by Sheridan High School Administrators has nothing to do with Arkansas values," said Griffin.

Taylor Ellis,17, is an openly gay student at Sheridan High School. The Yearbook's Assistant Editor, Hannah Bruner, approached Ellis about writing a student profile in the yearbook.

However, soon after Ellis' mother got a call from the principal.

"I didn't understand because there had been no problems, so I ask him have you had threats, he said no ma'am, just his well-being," said Ellis' mother, Lynn Tiley.

Shortly after, administrators removed all the profiles from the yearbook. Bruner said, the only reason they did is because Ellis is gay. She then contacted the Human Rights Campaign.

"I had no idea that any of this would happen, but I'm glad it did and if don't regret anything that I've done so far," added Bruner.

Sheridan's Superintendant Dr. Brenda Haynes did release this statement:

{}We must make decisions that lead in the proper direction for all of our students and for our community. We must not make decisions based on demands by any special interest group. The seven profiles will not be published in the yearbook.

We have reviewed state law, court cases, and our own policies. It is clear that the adults who have the responsibility for the operation of the District have the obligation to make decisions which are consistent with the mission of our school. We have done so.

"Keep trucking on, do my schoolwork, get the grades and go home, work, national guard, just keep to myself like I always have," said Ellis.

Ellis recently joined the Arkansas National Guard.

Wednesday morning, a petition with more than 30,000 signatures to reverse this decision will be hand-delivered to the Sheridan High School Principal, Dr. Rodney Williams.

While the HRC did urge Governor Mike Beebe and the State's Education Commissioner, Dr. Tom Kimbrell, to get involved, both their spokespersons said they will not as it's a school district matter.

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