Reporter 101 – Know When To Speak Up – 5th Grader’s Same-Sex Speech Squashed

I was sent out on a story with not too much time to turn it around, thanks to just general timing, and Friday traffic. But, when I got to Rosedale, Queens, I knew I had a juicy one.

5th grader Kameron Slade goes to P.S. 195. He won an essay-writing competition in class. He was thrilled. The assignment: write about any topic you want relating to democracy. His prize for winning: He gets to give his speech to the entire school. Problem: he wrote about same-sex marriage and the principal pulled the plug, saying it was inappropriate.

Two things to consider: Same-sex marriage is legal in New York State.  Many parents of students we spoke to didn’t want to talk about the topic, and didn’t feel it was an appropriate topic for a speech either.

Kameron:  “I was a little bummed out because I thought my speech, my original speech was really going to win.”
His original class winning discourse derived from a conversation he had with his mother when she explained the issue of same-sex marriage.  In Kameron’s speech, he asked for gays to be treated with equality on all stances, including marriage.  The 10-year-old boy’s speech included influence from his mother’s friends, who are gay.

“They seemed happy,” he said. “Best of all, they seemed to love each other. The only difference was that there were two moms instead of a mother and a father.”

And Slade’s main point in his speech: “No matter what orientation are you should be treated the same way as a straight person.”

He ended up writing a speech about animal cruelty, instead.

“It’s something that the principal felt that she needed more due diligence with the parent community.” said School Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

Now, the school says they’ll still consider Slade’s original speech as part of the competition and let him give his original speech on Monday. But, this will only be after parents receive a letter, warning them about the subject matter of the speech.

“People don’t really want to talk about this to their children and there no point of hiding it, they can sneak stuff, they can search on computer,” Slade said. “They can watch it on the news.”

Meet Kameron, who is a pretty cute kid, here.  This piece aired in our 5 pm news. Our 10pm producer had it slated for a vo/sot at 10p, but I really felt strongly about the controversial nature of this story and suggested it be a package. My producer agreed, and the change was made. I don’t know if that made a difference to the viewer, and it probably didn’t do much to change the timing of the show as the package is pretty short, but I just knew that I felt strongly our viewers needed to hear more from Kameron, and  I’m glad they did.

What do you think – was the principal right? Or should  Kameron speech not have been squashed?

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Susan Paraspolo says:

    The principal is wrong here. Though he probably felt pressured by the thought of backlash from the heterosexist or maybe homophobic parents in the school community, the student completed the assignment appropriately and obviously in an articulate manner. This is not an offensive topic. It’s not hateful or inappropriate. That should be the focus. I would be hard preased to believe there aren’t any gay parents in that community. Stop acting as if heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation. It does a grave disservice to the human race.

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