An openly gay student who was banned from giving a graduation speech by the local diocese defied them by giving it on the lawn outside of the school instead.
Christian Bales finished the school year at Holy Cross High School in Kentucky as valedictorian and was due to give a speech on Friday at the private Roman Catholic school.
However Bales, along with student council president Katherine Frantz, discovered the morning of the graduation ceremony that the speeches had been deemed inappropriate by the local Catholic diocese following an emergency meeting.
Principal Mike Holtz explained in a phone call to Bales and Frantz’s families that the diocese had stated that they found the speeches “aggressive, angry and confrontational,” according to WCPO.
On Friday, Bales left the graduation ceremony and instead gave his speech through a megaphone to the group of fellow graduates assembled on the lawn outside of the school.
In his speech, Bales focused on the potential young people have to make social change, drawing on the actions of survivors of the Parkland school shooting.
As seen in a video obtained by WCPO, Bales said: “‘The young people will win’ is a mantra that I’m sure many of you have heard if you’ve been attentive to the media recently.
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“It’s a phrase adopted by the prolific Stoneman Douglas teenagers who are advocating for an agenda — our rights to feel secure as humans.
“As we enter into the real world, we must remember that we have a voice.”
He added: “We are dynamic. We are intelligent. We have a voice, and we’re capable of using it in all communities.”
Diocese of Covington spokesperson Tim Fitzgerald stated that the speeches were “found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Fitzgerald also said that the students had missed the deadline to submit the speeches to faculty for approval.
Bales’ mother told WCPO that prior to the cancellation of the speech, the school principal had contacted her in order to check that Bales, who is gender non-conforming, would not be wearing make-up and would be dressed in men’s clothing.
We must take what we’ve learned in this community and apply it to the world we are about to encounter.
Bales said in closing his speech. “We are the young people, and we will continue to win.”