SHERIDAN, Ark. (KTHV) - "I never saw this coming. I never saw it coming," Taylor Ellis stated to THV11 Monday night. The 17 year-old said he was in shock when administrators at Sheridan High informed him they were refusing to include an interview with the openly gay student in this year's yearbook.
"A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Williams, the principal, called me into his office and was telling me that he was concerned and worried that I was going to get bullied if it was put in the yearbook," Ellis said. He "came out" to friends and family in spring of 2013 and has not had any problems from peers thus far. "I'm already openly gay. Everybody knows and nobody treats me different." Which is why Ellis and the writer can't seem to understand why administrators want to pull the plug on the profile.
THV11 wanted to find out, so we called Superintendent Brenda Haynes about the claims and was told she was unavailable. She responded 45 minutes later in an email response.
As of Monday's 10 p.m. newscast, we have not yet received that statement.
"They're trying not to enforce bullying. They don't want people being bullied, but they're bullying students," Ellis explained.
The Human Rights Campaign is now stepping in. The national civil rights organization is asking Governor Mike Beebe and Education commissioner-Dr. Tom Kimbrell to get involved.
Ellis said he never thought a simple yearbook profile would draw national attention, but he believes if spreading his story will help encourage others, then he has to take a stand.
The Human Rights Campaign will be holding a press conference Tuesday at 5 p.m. on the steps of the state capitol.