Administrators told 18-year-old Christian Bales that his speech was “too confrontational, too angry, [and] too personal.”
One Kentucky Catholic school has come under fire after rejecting its gay and gender-nonconforming valedictorian’s commencement speech.
Christian Bales, the 2018 valedictorian of Holy Cross High School in Crestview Hills, was told that his planned remarks for the commencement ceremony were too personal and too political. The school took action quickly, removing any mention of his speech from the graduation program.
The feedback came with no time to revise his speech. But Bales didn’t want to, anyway: “I did not think the speech was polarizing at all,” he told The New York Times, noting that his remarks made no reference to his sexuality or gender-nonconformity.
Bales, 18, is no stranger to controversy: At his senior prom, he wore high heels and a floral jumpsuit. (His school’s principal asked him to wear “appropriate male dress” at graduation, a request Bales had no problem respecting.) But he considered his speech appropriate—and teachers at Holy Cross, who’d already green lit his comments, agreed. At his father’s suggestion, Bales decided to deliver his speech separately from the official ceremony via megaphone.
“It was very empowering,” he recalled. “The people who were surrounding us were the ideal audience.”
In his speech, Bales alluded to the student activists from Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fl., reminding his peers that their voices matter: “The young people must be willing to speak candidly about issues, and we mustn’t tremble in the face of the institutions that try to silence us.”
Bales isn’t sure if his sexuality or gender identity played a part in administrators’ decision to nix his remarks. But he won’t let the rejection slow him down: “I think I’m going to keep fighting for what I believe in,” he told WKRC Cincinnati. “I’m going to keep using my megaphone and intensifying my voice.”
In a statement, representatives from Holy Cross’ diocese told WLWT5 that Bales and the 2018 student body president, Katherine Frantz, whose remarks were also barred, failed to submit their proposed speeches “before the deadline.”