Christian Bales, the valedictorian of Holy Cross High School in Crestview Hills, Kentucky, was barred from delivering his graduation speech on Friday. Instead, he delivered it after the graduation ceremony, outside of the school on a megaphone.
After reading a copy of Bales' speech, the school determined it was "political and inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic church." Bales said he found out the day of graduation that the Diocese of Covington cut his speech from the ceremony.
"The diocese took ours and said they were too confrontational, too angry, too personal, and that they weren't appropriate for the setting," Bales said, after both he and his friend's speeches were cut.
Bales repeated the phrase "the young people will win" in his speech, a phrase coined by Parkland, Florida, students who survived a mass shooting earlier this year.
In a statement, a diocese spokesperson said:
"School officials and representatives of the Diocese of Covington reserve the right to review and approve all student speeches to be presented in public at high school graduations. The student speeches for the Holy Cross High School graduation were not submitted for review before the deadline. They were found to contain elements that were political and inconsistent with the teachings of the Catholic church."
"I know they pointed out that the Parkland teens teach ideologies that apparently go against the Catholic faith, which I don't agree with in my experience," Bales said, according to WKRC.
Bales' mother, Gillian Marksberry, believes there was another reason the school did not want her son to speak.
Marksberry said she received a call from the school's principal last week. She said he wanted her help to ensure Bales wore men's clothing to graduation and did not wear makeup or bobby pins in his hair.
"That was disturbing because in four years, I had never received a phone call from the principal," Marksberry said. "No one ever reached out to me to help learn about my child."
Bales is openly gay. He says to date, the school had been supportive.
This incident won't silence him, he says. "I think I'm going to keep fighting for what I believe in," Bales said. "I'm going to keep using my megaphone and intensifying my voice."
Bales' mother planned to send his 9-year-old sister to Holy Cross in the future, but said after Friday night, that is not happening.