A valedictorian from a Wisconsin Lutheran high school was reportedly blocked by school officials from giving his graduation speech once they learned he planned to use the remarks to come out as gay.
“In the rough draft of my speech that I submitted to the administration, I came out in it,” Nat Werth, 18, a senior at Sheboygan Lutheran High School told Buzzfeed.
“I knew that they wouldn’t let me say that at graduation, but I put it in the rough draft because for me it was part of the writing process and how I was reflecting on my high school career.”
Werth told the site he anticipated pushback from school officials, and was even willing to remove it.
“I told them I’d be willing to take it out, but they didn’t trust me, because that’s when they found out I was gay,” he said. “And because they knew that I was gay, they chose not to let me give the speech.”
It wasn’t the first time Werth felt discriminated against at Sheboygan Lutheran High School. Last year, he wasn’t allowed to join the school’s dance team, despite the coaches approval, according to the Sheboygan Press.
In his draft speech, Werth outlined the struggles coming of out as gay in a religious upbringing.
“Absolutely no one should have to go through what I have gone through simply to come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin. God created everyone just the way they are and never intended for the church to disenfranchise an entire group of people.”
School officials declined to comment on Werth’s speech, telling Sheboygan Press that the handling of student and family issues is confidential.
Despite missing out on the May 24 graduation speech to the school’s salutatorian, Werth is taking advantage of this opportunity to speak out against the administration.
“A lot of people have said they feel bad for me, but I’d rather have people feel happy that someone is finally standing up to the administration [and] speaking up for what’s right and trying to change Lutheran High School for the better,” he told the site.
The graduate will attend Northeastern University in the fall – but in the interim he plans work with state legislators and advocate for equal treatment for all students.