Gay Student's Kiss Blacked Out of Yearbook

Published February 11, 2008

Posted June 26, 2007 – Andre Jackson, a senior at East Side High in Newark, N.J., is angry that a picture of him kissing his boyfriend was blacked out of the yearbooks after it was already printed.

Jackson said that he paid an additional $150, over the $85 sale price, for a special page of photos in the year book, and the picture he selected should have been included, The Newark Star-Ledger reports.

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But school officials weren't having it.  According to one student,  the principal and several teachers went through the 250 yearbooks and covered every inch of Jackson's photo with a black marker before it was distributed.

“It’s not that we want to do this. It’s that we have to do this,” Senior Benilde Barroqueiro said a teacher told her,

And that teacher was right, because the decision to blot out Jackson's photo came from Newark Public Schools Superintendent Marion A. Bolden.

“I was upset,” the 18-year-old Jackson said. “I was hurt. I felt embarrassed and abused,” adding that the photo wasn't saying, 'Oh look, I'm gay, but it was to make a point.

“It was just a picture showing my emotion, saying that I’m happy, you know, whatever. It was to look back on as a memory.”

But Bolden didn't see it that way.  She told The Star-Ledger that is was just too suggestive for a high school yearbook.

A New Jersey gay rights group, Garden State Equality, wants the yearbooks redistributed with the kiss and Bolden to publicly apologize to Jackson and his boyfriend, 19-year-old David Escobales – which she says she has no problems doing, The New York Times reports.

“He was personally hurt,” Bolden said. “That bothers me very much.”

Jackson reportedly tossed his yearbook in the trash because, "What I wanted to see wasn't there."

Should the kiss have been included in the yearbook, or did the superintendent make the right decision? Click "Discuss Now" to post your comment.

Written by BET-Staff

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