NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott says a fifth grade student at P.S. 195 in Queens will be allowed to give a speech about same-sex marriage after all.
The school’s principal barred Kameron Slade from delivering the speech in front of a school-wide assembly, saying it was inappropriate. Instead, he delivered a speech Friday about animal cruelty.
“I thought my original speech was really gonna win. I was very confident in it,” Slade told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
Walcott said Friday that Principal Beryl Bailey will allow the speech to go ahead in front of a special assembly of fifth graders on Monday.
“This extra day will give her the ability to reach out to those parents to make them aware of the content of the speech because we’re talking about an elementary school,” Walcott said. “She wants to be responsible in making sure that people have a clear understanding of what the speech is about.”
“I’m really pleased with that compromise. I’m really glad that the Department of Education has taken time to pay attention,” Slade’s mother told CBS 2’s Aiello.
Slade said his speech calls for acceptance and tolerance of gay couples, and added he hopes parents talk with the children about same-sex marriage, because, in his words, “it’s out there.”
“They can sneak stuff. They can search it on the computer. They can watch it on the news,” Slade said.
New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm said Slade’s principal “has taught a lesson in hate.” Dromm called the decision to allow Slade to deliver the speech in front of a separate assembly “discriminatory.”
“Separate but equal does not work,” Dromm said.
“I think the young man has the right to give a speech, so it’s not undermining her. She needs to make sure that she reaches out to the parent community and she’s trying to balance a variety of different needs,” Walcott said.
The New York Civil Liberties Union told CBS 2’s Aiello that Slade’s First Amendment rights were violated.
“At a time when Marriage Equality is the law of our state, we should not stifle students from engaging this issue on their own terms and in their own ways,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “Kameron’s speech is a heartfelt expression of understanding that deserves to be commended. He has shown far more maturity than the adults in his school. His voice should be heard, not sidelined.”
What do you think: Do you think the principal’s decision to ban a fifth grader’s speech on same-sex marriage was fair? Sound off in our comments section below, and tune in later to see if we use your comment on air.