Three generations of Dominic Sheahan-Stahl’s family have attended the Sacred Heart Academy in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. So they were proud when he was asked to be a graduation speaker.
But now that offer has been rescinded, the family says, because Sheahan-Stahl is gay.
“I was honored that they asked my son to do it, and Dominic was excited to do it. He didn’t think that the issue would come up,” said Dominic’s mother, Kathleen Sheahan-Stahl. She says what’s happening with her son hits home. She suffers from cerebral palsy and because of her condition, she says she raised her children not to discriminate.
“I was pretty upset with the decisions that were made,” says William Sheahan-Stahl, Dominic’s younger brother. He is graduating from Sacred Heart this year and was looking forward to hearing his big brother, now an actor living in New York, speak to his graduating class.
“My speech is all about fear and what the world can be like, and how fear can stop you from making a difference in life,” said Dominic in a YouTube video. “I was very taken aback and shocked by this, yesterday my mom had to call and tell me, I wasn’t even told by anyone at my school.”
The speaking offer was withdrawn when the Catholic Church discovered that on his (public) Facebook page Dominic is engaged to be married (he is pictured above with his partner). Apparently, he could not be present in the same room as a local bishop. He says he was told that if he had not put his engagement on Facebook he could possibly have spoken.
Dominic’s allumni have supported him and set up a Facebook page, ‘Let Dominic Speak’, which quickly gathered 3,000 likes.
Watch the graduating class of 2012 of Sacred Heart Academy speak out for Sheahan-Stahl to be their keynote speaker at graduation:
The Principal of Sacred Heart Academy, Denny Starnes, in an emotional address to the school Friday, has said that although he disagreed with the decision to ban gay alumnus Dominic Sheahan-Stahl from speaking at the school’s graduation ceremony he was forced by the local Catholic Church to go along with decision.†Furthermore, he suggested that he may be fired due to his disagreement. The address also included a conversation by Starnes via Skype with Sheahan-Stahl.
Starnes said: “Remember this message, I will not be here to remind you. If you’re willing to cast first stone, think first.”
Sheahan-Stahl said that he would speak at the nearby campus of campus of Central Michigan University and Sacred Heart Academy students are understood to be considering moving the graduation ceremony there.
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