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Sunday, June 24, 2007

School Officials Black Out Photo of a Gay Student’s Kiss


from Sunday's New York Times



Photo: Timothy Ivy for the New York Times
Andre Jackson, an East Side High senior, is upset that a picture of him kissing his boyfriend was blacked out of the school yearbooks.

Published: June 24, 2007

NEWARK, June 23 — It started with a kiss.

A black-marker splotch covered the photo, above, in students' yearbooks.

Andre Jackson, a senior at East Side High School, leaned over his boyfriend’s shoulder one day several months ago and kissed him on the lips. He took a picture of the smooch with his digital camera.

Like other students, Mr. Jackson later paid $150 to have his own special page of photos in the school yearbook. He decided to include the picture of the kiss, to make not a political statement, but a personal one.

“I didn’t intend to say, ‘Oh hey, look at me, I’m gay,’ ” said Mr. Jackson, 18. “It was just a picture showing my emotion, saying that I’m happy, you know, whatever. It was to look back on as a memory.”

On Thursday evening, when the seniors gathered at a restaurant here for the Senior Banquet, students received the yearbooks they had bought for around $85. But the picture of Mr. Jackson kissing his boyfriend was gone. School officials had blacked it out. Roughly 250 yearbooks were distributed, and all of them had a black-marker splotch covering every inch of the photo.

“I was upset,” Mr. Jackson said. “I was hurt. I felt embarrassed and abused.”

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