A picture of teen love Newark couldn't face

MJMANDALAY

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Jan 26, 2005
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A picture of teen love Newark couldn't face

Gay pair's photo covered up in yearbook
Saturday, June 23, 2007

A photograph of an East Side High School student kissing his boyfriend was blacked out of every copy of the school's yearbook by Newark school officials who decided it was inappropriate.

Andre Jackson said he never thought he would offend anyone when he bought a page in the yearbook and filled it with several photographs, including one of him kissing his boyfriend.

But Newark Superintendent of Schools Marion Bolden called the photograph "illicit" and ordered it blacked out of the $85 yearbook before it was distributed to stu dents at a banquet for graduating seniors Thursday.

"It looked provocative," she said. "If it was either heterosexual or gay, it should have been blacked out. It's how they posed for the picture."

Russell Garris, the assistant superintendent who oversees the city's high schools, brought the photograph to Bolden's attention Thursday afternoon. He was concerned the picture would be controversial and upsetting to parents, Bolden said.

There are several photos of heterosexual couples kissing in the yearbook, but the superintendent said she didn't review the entire yearbook and was presented only with Jackson's page.

Ripping the page out entirely was considered but, Bolden said, it was decided blacking it out with a marker would lessen the damage to the yearbooks.

Jackson said he showed up at the banquet, excited to collect his yearbook. He'd paid an additional $150 for the special tribute page filled with shots of boyfriend David Escobales, 19, of Allentown, Pa., and others. Jackson learned what happened to his page moments before the books were distributed.

While the students waited, staff members in another room blacked out the 4 1/2-by-5-inch picture from approximately 230 books.

"I don't understand," said Jackson, 18. "There is no rule about no gay pictures, no guys kissing. Guys and girls kissing made it in."

East Side's is like most high school yearbooks. About 80 pages in the roughly 100-page tome are dedicated to class photos, formal shots of seniors, candids and spreads dedicated to a variety of sports teams and academic clubs.

The back of the book is a col lection of tributes where students designed pages filled with pictures depicting them with their families, girlfriends and boyfriends, and friends.

Rules for publication of the pages prohibited shots of gang signs, rude gestures and graphic photos, said Benilde Barroqueiro, an East Side senior graduating with Jackson.


"You know, it couldn't be too provocative. No making out, no tongue," she said.

Students were surprised when they opened their books and found Jackson's picture had been covered with marker, Barroqueiro said.

"He purchased the page and fell under the rules," she said. "If they want to kiss, that's their page. If you don't like it, don't look at it."

Submitting the picture wasn't about shocking people, Jackson said.

"We were kissing, which everyone does when they're in a rela tionship. They are expressing happiness and love for the person they care about," he said. "It wasn't that I wanted everyone to see and see I'm gay. I wanted everyone to feel the love I feel."

The school offered to refund the $150 fee he paid for the page, but Jackson said he turned it down.

What made the situation even stranger is same-sex couples are rather accepted at East Side, said senior Uerequenia Pereira.

"You see people kissing all the time," she said.

Bolden said certain behavior is not appropriate in a yearbook and there should be standards about what is published. An investigation into who approved the final draft of East Side's yearbook will be initiated and policies about what can go in a book will be reviewed, she added.

"You just can't put anything in there because you paid for it," she said, reiterating her belief that Jackson photo was over the line. Blacking it out wasn't meant to be homophobic, she said.

Escobales, who hasn't seen the yearbook, said that's how it seems to him.

"I understand the school doesn't want problems," he said. "I just wish they would have let it in. It's us. That there are straight couples in there showing affection. That makes it worse."


http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-11/118257269226310.xml&coll=1



WTF is this world coming to. They should be glad in a hell hole of a city that it is, that these kids even graduated at all.











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Hudson

Supreme Champion!!!!!
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Jan 14, 2002
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#2
Question....and this is not a bash against gays (well maybe).....but the boyfriend lives in Allentown Pa? What there isn't a closer tight ass?(admittedly, probably not in Newark)
 

Pigdango

Silence, you mortal Fuck!
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Jun 22, 2004
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What exactly were you searching for when you found this story?
 

mikeybot

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Jul 25, 2005
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We all know that ******s don't like fags
 
Aug 27, 2002
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#10
Question....and this is not a bash against gays (well maybe).....but the boyfriend lives in Allentown Pa? What there isn't a closer tight ass?(admittedly, probably not in Newark)
I know! I mean, I think I'm closer to Newark than Allentown is :icon_mrgr
 

Chino Kapone

Yo, whats wrong wit da beer we got?
Jun 10, 2005
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#12
they should have left the picture. the fact that they are marking it out is more controversial than leaving the picture in.
 

Garyisajoke

I created FRED, fuckface. Show some respect.
Nov 20, 2005
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#14
What does the principal think would happen if they left in the two faggots making out? Riots? You know what, knowing the close-minded parents with fucked-up priorities (which is quickly becoming the majority of this country) they probably would riot.

Also, if they were blacking out the picture in a backroom moments before handing the yearbooks out (which the article states) why couldn't the principal cover his ass by taking out shots of heterosexuals kissing? Now it just looks like homophobia on his part... his answer that he didn't know about it is bullshit. He had to have known A) that there were shots of heteros making out and B) what it would look like by singling out the homos.
 

MJMANDALAY

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Jan 26, 2005
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#15
Update








Newark relents on covered-up yearbook photo
Schools chief apologizes for actions over gay student's page
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Saying she regretted ordering staff to black out a photograph of two men kissing in a high school yearbook, Newark Superintendent Marion Bolden issued a public apology yesterday to the student in the picture.

In a written statement, Bolden said she "regrets any embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to" graduating senior Andre Jackson. She said the district would reissue the East Side High School yearbook with the photograph to students free of charge "upon request."

The sudden about-face comes three days after Bolden called the 4 1/2-by-5-inch photo "illicit" and defended the district's right to black it out of some 230 yearbooks before they were handed out at a banquet for graduating seniors Thursday.

Bolden said the photograph looked provocative because of the way Jackson and his boyfriend were posing, but photos of heterosexual couples remained un touched. Bolden said the other photos were never brought to her attention.

"The buck stops with me," Bolden said in an interview yesterday. "I was only presented with the one page, but I should have looked at the rest of the book."

After reviewing the yearbook yesterday, Bolden said she would have either blacked out all the photographs of kissing students or left the book alone.

Jackson said Bolden's statement was a poor apology. As of last evening, Jackson said he had not spoken to the superintendent. Va lerie Merritt, a spokeswoman for the district, said a tentative meet ing has been scheduled for this morning, but Jackson said he had not heard that.

"I've never been given a hard time at school because of who I am," he said. "I felt what they did, it was something they were doing to erase me."

A meeting with Bolden and distribution of the yearbooks by to morrow's graduation ceremony is the first step toward repairing some of the damage caused by Bolden's decision, he said.

The incident has become a cause célèbre for gay and civil rights activists, who have rallied to Jackson's side, calling the district's action a clear-cut case of discrimination.


The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey sent a letter to the district saying "censorship of the photo violates free speech" and New Jersey laws against discrimination. Garden State Equality, a gay-rights group, mounted a letter- and e-mail-writing campaign pushing for a formal apology.

Both organizations want the district to reprint and reissue the $85 yearbook to all students.

"Even beyond reissuing the book, there is some training and education among district personnel called for here," ACLU-NJ executive director Deborah Jacobs said. "They are teaching a lesson about censorship when state law calls for equality and free speech."

Bolden acknowledged that the district's staff may need more training.

"We had that in the aftermath of Sakia Gunn," Bolden said. "But I guess we need more."

Gunn, a 15-year-old West Side High School student, was stabbed to death in downtown Newark in 2003 by a man who was upset when Gunn and her friends rejected his advances and told him they were lesbians.

The photo of Jackson and his boyfriend, David Escobales, 19, of Allentown, Pa., appeared on a page in a special tribute section of the book. Students paid an additional $150 for a page, which are filled with a variety of snapshots and messages.

Bolden, in her written statement, said the decision also was "based, in part, on misinformation that Mr. Jackson was not one of our students and our review simply focused on the suggestive nature of the photograph."

Until this happened, Bolden said, she was unaware that pages in high school yearbooks were for sale to students and they could submit their own photos. Guidelines for future yearbook photo publications will be reviewed, she said.

Jackson's formal class photo is featured in the book with the rest of the Class of 2007.

While many East Side students disagreed with Bolden's decision, there were some who felt that blot ting out the photo was the right move. At a graduation rehearsal at Newark Symphony Hall yesterday morning, clusters of seniors signed the edited yearbook and talked about the controversy.

"I don't want to bring that home and have my little brother see it," Brian Mitchell said of the photograph. "It is inappropriate for the yearbook. Andre's cool, I just don't think that should be in there."

Karen Morales also paid $150 for a special page in the yearbook and submitted a photo of her and her boyfriend kissing on a couch. It was untouched.

"I don't think it's right that Andre's page was blacked out when everybody else was left alone," Morales said.

Juan Batine agreed.

"I'm offended," he said. "I'm gay too and this makes me feel discriminated against. (Bolden) owes everyone a huge apology."