A high school graduate from Kentucky wasn’t allowed to give his graduation speech with the excuse that it was too political, but his mother thinks there’s more going on.
Christian Bales is a recent graduate from the Holy Cross High School in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. Not only that, he was also the valedictorian.
Before this past Friday, Bales was excited for graduation. As the valedictorian, Bales was set to give an impassioned speech to send off his classmates. Unfortunately, Bales later got word, on the day of the event, that he wouldn’t be allowed to give that speech (which you can read in full here).
After reading through Bales’ planned speech (and the speech of a friend who was also set to talk), the school informed him (and the friend) that the message was too “political and inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic church.”
"The diocese took ours and said they were too confrontational, too angry, too personal, and that they weren't appropriate for the setting," Bales told CBS News.
Part of the “too political” excuse is that Bales’ speech repeatedly uses the phrase “the young people will win,” which is a reference to the rhetoric of the Parkland, Florida students who continue to advocate for gun laws.
In a statement, a diocese spokesperson said:
"School officials and representatives of the Diocese of Covington reserve the right to review and approve all student speeches to be presented in public at high school graduations. The student speeches for the Holy Cross High School graduation were not submitted for review before the deadline. They were found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic church."
"I know they pointed out that the Parkland teens teach ideologies that apparently go against the Catholic faith, which I don't agree with in my experience," Bales said, according to WKRC.
In reaction to this, Bales decided to give his speech anyway. Due to the banning, he couldn’t give it at the ceremony, but he did give the speech afterwards and outside of the school on a megaphone.
But that’s not the end of the story, for Bales’ mother says there’s another piece to it.
Gillian Marksberry is the mother of openly gay Bales (who also identifies as gender nonconforming). While Marksberry says that his sexuality and gender identity have never been an issue with the school before, she thinks they were a part of this speech fiasco.
Marksberry later came forward to say that the school’s principal called her a week before the graduation ceremony. The principal called to ask if Bales would wear men’s clothing to the ceremony and not makeup or bobby pins in his hair.
"That was disturbing because in four years, I had never received a phone call from the principal," Marksberry said. "No one ever reached out to me to help learn about my child."
Because of this, Marksberry is reconsidering sending Bales’ 9-year-old sister to Holy Cross when she’s of age. When the time comes, they may look at other options.
In addition, Christian Bales will be attending the University of Louisville in the fall with on a full-ride scholarship. He plans to major in biology and become a conservationist.