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Banned from contest, 5th grader OK’d to recite gay marriage essay at school assembly

Saturday, June 16, 2012
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QUEENS, N.Y. — A fifth grade student in Queens, N.Y., who earlier this week was prohibited from reading an essay on marriage equality that he wrote for a school competition, will be allowed to recite his essay during a special assembly.

Kameron Slade, who attends William Haberle (PS 195) school in Queens, was scheduled to recite the essay Friday after during a school competition, until the school’s principal, Beryl Bailey, stepped in and refused to allow Kameron to speak, calling the subject matter “inappropriate.”

NY1

Kameron Slade

Bailey said that Kameron, 10, would have to pick another topic or be dropped from the competition — eventually, Kameron changed his topic to “animal cruelty” in order to remain in the competition. (He lost.)

The principal’s decision to ban Kameron from speaking on marriage equality has sparked outrage among gay rights advocates, and the New York Civil Liberties Union called it censorship.

But late Thursday, the New York City Department of Education told NY1 that Kameron would be permitted to give his speech Monday in some sort of a different assembly, outside of the competition.

Walcott said Friday that “the principal felt that she needed to do more due diligence with her parent community because of the topic of the speech itself.”

“I was really looking forward to it,” Kameron said Thursday in reference to the competition. “I thought that this was a real good winning speech for tomorrow.”

Kameron said that some adults may “feel uncomfortable and think it’s inappropriate to talk about this to children,” but added, “There is no point in really trying to hide it because us children, we are going to figure it out some time now or later.”

“Like President Obama, I believe that all people should have the right to marry whoever they want. Marriage is about love, support and commitment,” he said.

A letter sent to parents Friday confirmed that Kameron will be allowed to recite his speech on same-sex marriage at a special assembly on Monday.

Daniel Dromm, an openly gay New York City councilman and a former public schools teacher, said that keeping Kameron’s speech out of the contest was wrong.

“I don’t believe separate but equal works,” Dromm said. “I think this is a topic that everybody should talk about. There is nothing inappropriate about this topic.”

Kameron has since been invited to speak before the City Council and at several New York City Pride events, but said that for now, he just wants to read his speech at school.

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