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Gay Alum's Commencement Speech Invite Withdrawn

MOUNT PLEASANT (WWJ/AP) - An aspiring actor who graduated from a Mount Pleasant catholic school in 1998 will not be allowed to speak at next month's graduation ceremonies because he is openly gay.

Dominic Sheahan-Stahl had been invited to speak at Sacred Heart Academy's graduation ceremony on May 20. But this week, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw decided that the offer would be withdrawn after school staff found out Sheahan-Stahl was gay from engagement photos on Facebook.

Sheahan-Stahl said his mother was the one who told him the invitation was rescinded.

"She was upset, she was crying and she was so worried about how I was going to feel, how I was going to react. I was shocked, I was hurt, and I said 'You know what? I'm not going to get angry, I'm not going to fight, but I'm going to let the whole world know that I've been discriminated against,'" he said.

The school's principal, Denny Starnes, said while he supports Sheahan-Stahl, he will abide by the diocese's decision.

"The church is not sharing my position on this issue," said Starnes, who added he is neighbors with Sheahan-Stahl's family. "How can I not support this young man to come and speak to this class?"

The diocese said in a statement that the invitation to speak and its rescinding "were done independently" of the Catholic Schools office or the office of the bishop.

"The Catholic Church is very clear in her teaching, that men and women who have homosexual tendencies must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity," said Bishop Joseph Cistone. "Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

Sheahan-Stahl said he's overwhelmed by the support he's received since going public with his story.

"If I could take back the situation happening, I wouldn't and I never would. I'm very proud to be the person that can stand up and represent so many people out there who don't have a voice and I can give a voice to all those people," he said.

Sheahan-Stahl, who lives in New York, said he still plans to attend his brother's graduation at the school.

"Why am I any different just because of who I love?" he said. "I am a homosexual man, and I am proud of it."

Live through Love! Stop discrimination. by dsheahanstahl on YouTube

TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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