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

Saturday, June 16, 2012

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.”


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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16 more reader comments:

  1. I applaud this lil man :) <3

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 11:55am
  2. I bet it would have won the contest :) <3!

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 11:55am
  3. Yay! Proud of him

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:00pm
  4. Brave & thoughtful young man.

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:04pm
  5. This lil man is far beyond his years! That’s awesome!!

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:12pm
  6. Censorship of minority viewpoints needs to be addressed, ESPECIALLY in schools.

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:17pm
  7. Way to go kid!

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:18pm
  8. children who grow up witnessing love spread love his parents most be great exsamples

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:19pm
  9. WoW -what a proud moment not only for him but for his parents 2!

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:42pm
  10. The school administration and staff should be proud of having a student like Kameron Slade.

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 1:07pm
  11. Unfortunately…this kid is smarter than most adults. He will be a leader someday.

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 1:35pm
  12. Good for him!!! …when did teaching tolerance and acceptance become a negative…

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 2:25pm
  13. If that were my child’s speech I’d have challenged the principals ridiculous decision to ban his speech. How is it ok to expose children to marriage between man and woman but not same sex marriage. There’s no difference. Way to go to the little guy for standing up for what is right :)

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 3:23pm
  14. This boy is guaranteed free speech by the Constitution of the United States of America. Keep an eyes on this kid–I believe we have a leader in the making…

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 6:16pm
  15. Free Speech comes with a price tag, which right was bought for this child by the blood of police, military, community and civil rights leaders… Which is still being paid today so this child is allowed to speak his truth. The Principal that sought to obstruct his 1st Ammendment Rights should be at minimum, disciplined or better, fired or otherwise censured severely in future.

    Posted on Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 9:57pm
  16. You go boy… You are in my heroes list… and there not to many there…

    Posted on Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 6:45pm