Taylor Ellis
School 'Horrible' for Ark. Student in Yearbook Dispute

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com March 21 2014 3:31 PM ET

For the gay Arkansas high school student whose profile was cut from his yearbook, returning to school after the story hit local and national media was “horrible” — but he’s still proud of who he is and is “not giving up.”

Taylor Ellis, a junior at Sheridan High School, had discussed his coming-out journey in the profile, but was notified recently that his and other student profile stories would not be included in the yearbook. He talked about the matter in the media, and the Human Rights Campaign organized a protest in Arkansas, but school administrators stood by their decision.

One of their rationales was that publication of the story would lead to bullying. But Ellis says that’s happened nonetheless.

The school environment has been “horrible” since his situation was covered in the media, Ellis told the online magazine Slate. He returned to classes Wednesday after a school trip. “People were talking about it while we were on our trip, texting all of us, making comments,” he said. “I was about to lose it.”

In his fifth-period class, he told Slate, “I got in the Instagram page someone made that said ‘Sheridan School = No Gays.’ I was looking at all the people [at Sheridan] who liked it and who followed it — people I don’t need to talk to. Three of them were in that class, sitting right across from the room from me.”

He asked several students why they were following the page, and a teacher told him he shouldn’t be talking about the subject in class. Also, one student said he was “giving the school a bad name.” After spending some time “shaking and crying,” he went to see his former Spanish teacher, an ally who acknowledged that he was being bullied, offered him comfort, and took him to see a school counselor. He talked with the counselor “about how there are really dumb people in the world,” but “they’re going to have to accept you whether they support you or not.”

Asked what he’d say to other students in his situation, he told Slate, “I’d say it’s OK to be gay. If you ever have any problems, resolve them and don’t give up. If you feel defeated, do not give up. Because I feel defeated right now. But I know I’m not. It’s not done. I know it’s not over. I’m not giving up.”