NEWARK SCHOOLS APOLOGIZE TO GAY STUDENT AND WILL REISSUE YEARBOOK AT OWN EXPENSE
MONDAY, JUNE 25, 2007 at 2:00 PM, press contact Steven Goldstein, chair, Garden State Equality--
In response to an intense 72-hour campaign by Garden State Equality that generated more than 2,500 outraged letters from across
and the entire nation, Newark Schools Superintendent Marion Bolden has formally apologized to graduating senior Andre Jackson for manually crossing out a photo of Mr. Jackson and his boyfriend in hundreds of East Side High School yearbooks.
. Shame on Marion Bolden, and shame on the school district, for humilating Andre Jackson and other LGBTI students and not having the courage to call Andre directly."
AP Photo planned
By Jeffrey Gold apologizes for blackout of gay kiss in yearbook
Associated Press Writer
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ The Newark school district on Monday said it regretted a decision to have high school staffers use markers to black out a picture of a male student kissing his boyfriend from all copies of a school yearbook. The superintendent issued an apology to the student, Andre Jackson.
"The decision was based, in part, on misinformation that Mr. Jackson was not one of our students and our review simply focused on the suggestive nature of the photograph," the district said in a statement.
"Superintendent Marion A. Bolden personally apologizes to Mr. Jackson and regrets and embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to him," according to the statement.
The district said it would reissue an "un-redacted version" of the 2007 yearbook to any student of East Side High School who wants one.
Bolden, through a spokeswoman, declined a request for an interview.
Jackson planned an afternoon news conference with Garden State Equality, a gay rights group, which has condemned actions taken by the district last week.
Last week, Bolden had described the picture, which showed Andre Jackson, 18, kissing David Escobales, as "illicit."
"If it was either heterosexual or gay, it should have been blacked out. It's how they posed for the picture," Bolden told The Star-Ledger of for Saturday's editions.
In the 4 1/2-by-5-inch photo, Jackson is seen turning his head back over his right shoulder and kissing Escobales, 19, of . It was blacked out after Russell Garris, the district's assistant superintendent who oversees the city's high schools, told Bolden he was concerned that the photo could upset parents.
The photo was among several others showing Jackson, friends and others _ including heterosexual couples _ that appeared on a special tribute page in the yearbook. Jackson, who paid $150 for the page, questioned the decision to black out the photo, noting that the yearbook is filled with pictures of heterosexual couples kissing.
"There is no rule about no gay pictures (or) no guys kissing," Jackson has said.
Newark public schools have about 42,000 students.
The district is one of three in that are under state control, and is among 31 districts in the state's neediest areas that get special financial aid.