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Whitney High School ‘Censors’ LGBT Student, Stops Appearance on School Television Show

By Brian Hews

Yet another scandal has hit ABCUSD’s Whitney High School in Cerritos (WHS), this one involving the school’s “Talk About It” campus television show, with WHS administrators cancelling the appearance of a LGBT student this past Tuesday who was ready to talk about “what it is like to be LGBTQ at Whitney.”

In a show of protest, and in support of the LGBTQ student, the staff of Talk About It continued with alternate programming featuring an empty chair symbolizing WHS’ censorship of the student.

WHS administration and the ABCUSD was rocked in 2017 when it was revealed that three teachers ran a simulated slavery ship enactment exposing students to the horrors of slavery. The lesson would involve the teachers acting as “slave ship captains” and students as slaves, with the students having their hands taped while lying on the floor.

WHS’ “Whitney Live Talk About It” programming allows students to speak to the entire campus with “appropriate messages that would teach students the impact their words can have upon others and promote kinder ways of treating one another.”

Content is required to be reviewed by WHS’ Head Counselor and Wellness Coordinator, “the team,” prior to the show’s broadcast.

“Both have final editorial authority to ensure any message presented is appropriate and effective.”

In a letter to ABCUSD Board Members and Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu, obtained by HMG-CN, WHS Principal John Briquelet claimed the team first saw the content the day of the broadcast, Tuesday Jan. at 8:25 a.m., the broadcast was to begin at 9:50 a.m.

Whitney HS, John Briquelet

Briquelet wrote, “the Head Counselor had not seen the final proposed message and the Wellness Coordinator had seen only rough drafts.”

Briquelet continued, “the first part of the message was generally pretty good; however, the second portion made a claim that an administrator was considering removing an English novel containing LGBTQ content from teachers’ curriculum because some parents were allegedly uncomfortable with it. Furthermore, the student-presenter planned to imply that this was an effort to ‘…silence a community that has already been put aside and marginalized for years…”

“In addition to this, the student also described asking questions about same sex couples via an anonymous feedback box and that the questions were thrown in the trash and deemed inappropriate. The implication being, once again, that staff were attempting to silence the LGBTQ community.”

 

 

 

Briquelet stated he spoke with the entire administrative team and “was certain that the student’s perception regarding the English novel was not accurate.”

He found that “no administrator had ever made such statements, and the book is actually being taught at Whitney.”

“Furthermore,” he continued, “this student was planning to make this claim on the basis of hearsay, not firsthand experience, and the student never inquired of any administrator whether or not this perception was accurate. Presenting this as factual would have been inappropriate and potentially injurious to the reputation of our school and staff.”

The censorship issue quickly made its way onto social media and Briquelet was forced to send a voice message to all parents.

“I sent a voice message to all of our families. I simply explained that the message was not broadcast because it contained some inaccuracies based upon hearsay.”

“We would still like to have the student present at some point in the near future, but this will be entirely dependent upon whether or not his message is free of hearsay and unfounded accusations.”

Former alumni Hope Yonishige of the Gretchen Whitney LGBTQ Alumni wrote on her Facebook page, “I am getting some information that this morning a gay student was going to talk about what being gay is like for him at Whitney. The talking points were allegedly cleared by counselors but the student had some criticism of administration. As a result, administration decided not to allow the student to be on the show. Mr. Z, an instructor, placed an empty chair on the air in protest of silencing the student.”

Yonishige stated, “the #silentchair was being used by many alums of Whitney who were no longer proud to be associated with the school.”

ABCUSD Superintendent Dr. Mary Sieu told HMG-CN, “John was trying to diffuse the situation, he just wanted to make sure the student was correctly stating what he submitted, at some point in the future the student will be allowed to go on with his views.”

Sources are telling HMG-CN that the student, Greg Figueroa and a group of students will speak at tonight’s ABCUSD Board meeting.

Those same sources are telling HMG-CN that the ACLU and Asian Pacific Islander-LGBT Chapter could also attend the meeting.

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment on "Whitney High School ‘Censors’ LGBT Student, Stops Appearance on School Television Show"

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Ralph Dave Westfall
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It’s good that the school is requiring that information be factual rather based on things that are unproven or hearsay. That’s common sense, not censorship.