A gay teen was disqualified from a student pageant this week by his school’s assistant principal for saying that he hopes marriage equality is legal in the next ten years.
Teen Kearian Gertz, who attends Fullerton Union High School in California, was reportedly yanked from the competition by Assistant Principal Joe Abell on Tuesday night when, in answer to a question about where Gertz sees himself in 10 years time, Gertz answered that he would like to find the love of his life and would like to get married, saying he hoped gay marriage is legal by then.
This apparently did not sit well with the assistant principal who reportedly got up on stage and told Gertz he was disqualified.
Heather Sutherland, the parent of another student, was in the audience during the Tuesday night competition. She said the male student was asked as part of the contest what he hoped to be doing in 10 years.
She said he initially made a lighthearted comment about being a highly successful entertainer but then turned serious.
According to a letter circulated Wednesday by other students to support the teen who was removed from the competition, “he replied by saying he hopes to find the love of his life, and to be able to marry him, and that he hopes gay marriage will be legal.”
While the student was giving his answer, “assistant principal Joe Abell came on stage in front of the hundreds of people in attendance and interrupted [the student's] speech and disqualified him from the competition,” the support letter stated.
The district quickly issued a statement saying that the matter wasn’t handled correctly, and noting that the assistant principal has since apologized both in person and publicly.
In a statement, Fullerton Joint Union High School District Superintendent George Giokaris said the student’s answer did not violate any school rules.
“The district has concluded that the matter was not handled appropriately by the assistant principal,” Giokaris said. “The district believes that the matter should have been handled privately with the student by the assistant principal.”
Giokaris said the administrator apologized privately to the student and publicly over the school’s public-address system Wednesday morning.
The district has declined to say if Abell will face further disciplinary action.
This comes after a large support campaign was created by Gertz’s peers who all thought that his being pulled from the competition was unfair. The student protest, which rumbles on, also wants “a direct change to the rules stated in the student handbook so that it directly includes rules against bullying based on sexual orientation, perceived sexual orientation, and gender identity.
“We know that with the support of our fellow students, we can bring justice to this situation, and make a better future for those on campus,” the letter circulated by students is reported to have said.
You can hear Gertz talk about what happened, and also hear what the assistant principal had to say for himself, in the video interview below:
Image taken from video no infringement intended.