A local high school graduation commencement speech in Ohio turned into an antigay diatribe last Friday.
In Marion, Ohio, a town north of the state capital of Columbus, an alumnus at River Valley High School, Jim McGuire, tore into same-sex relationships during the school's ceremony, according to local newspaper the Marion Star.
Speaking to the River Valley class of 2022, McGuire, the owner of a local manufacturing company called J.L. McGuire and Associates, told them, "Choose a spouse, I suggest. I also strongly suggest to make sure to choose Biblical principles, you know, a male with a female and female with a male," the paper reports.
The school decided to keep the video of the graduation private, and instead released a transcript of the event. The district sent the transcript and a statement to parents and graduates in an email over the weekend.
In its statement, the district made certain to note that McGuire was offering his own opinion, and it did not reflect the district's view. The email also indicated that the school administration did not approve the speech before McGuire gave it.
The email, according to the Marion Star, went on to say, "As with all alumni speeches in past ceremonies, the speech was not reviewed by anyone on the RV Administrative team or Board of Education. Any views expressed by the speaker during his commencement speech reflected his personal beliefs. He was not speaking as an official representative of River Valley Local Schools.'
The district added, "In cooperation with the River Valley Board of Education, the River Valley Administrative team will be reviewing our processes for future ceremonies. Above all else, we want to ensure our students, families, and guests receive a high-quality program focusing on the accomplishments of our graduating class."
The response to McGuire's speech was roundly condemned in the community and on social media.
Alexis Osipow, a 2018 River Valley alumna who was at the ceremony to see her younger sister graduate, told the paper, "When he made the comment that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, my jaw dropped to the floor, and I honestly thought I was hearing it wrong."
"I had to look around and see if other people were having the same reaction that I was, and they were. I felt like crying when I heard some people in the crowd clapping," she said. "But I was absolutely outraged and so were my parents and brother. I heard people behind me whispering about how inappropriate the comment was as well."
The Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD), of which McGuire is a board member, issued a statement on Facebook Thursday saying the organization was seeking to have McGuire resign. The organization also urged members of the community to contact the county commissioners who had appointed him to the board.
"Jim McGuire was appointed to our Board by our County Commissioners. He was not chosen by our institution. He has only attended two board meetings so we are just getting to know Jim and he is just getting to know us," the organization explained. "Our mission is to love ALL people in our community...While Jim's statements were extremely hurtful and we certainly do not condone that view, we show this repeatedly in many different ways. We hope that Marion County residents are wise enough to see all of the good that we do and not hang their hats on a very hurtful statement by a brand new board member who has maybe spent two or three hours with our institution."
MCBDD continued, "We have been gathering the facts about the event and working with the county commissioners to seek a resignation. They have appointed Jim, therefore, they would have to be the people to ask for his resignation. You can help us achieve a resignation by reaching out to the commissioners and voicing your concerns."