There are certain things that stand out as high school memories. Homecoming, prom, senior superlatives. All of these moments are immortalized in a student's yearbook. As we grow older we tend to pull these books out and share stories with friends. You can show your children how you were King or Queen for the day. Athletes can show how they were part of a team.
Unless of course you are gay and from Betsy Layne, Kentucky.
This is what one student-athlete has been forced to endure by people at his high school. Dalton Maldonado was involved in an ugly in-season confrontation with another team last year after being called a homophobic slur. The altercation led to police involvement that has been verified by by various media outlets. Since the story broke Dalton has been shunned by some in his school community. It baffles me.
I have been an educator for the past 19 years. During that time I have coached at a host of schools and held teaching jobs at three different buildings. My student-athletes have always been my first concern. Money for dinner, a ride home and an offer to spend the holidays with my family are commonplace. Over these years my players have been confronted with a myriad of adversity. I was never not there to support them.
Gay athlete's photo left out of yearbook
Gay basketball player Dalton Maldonado was removed from the Betsy Layne yearbook tribute to the boys basketball team.
This brings me back to Betsy Layne. How in the world are these coaches not supporting this young man? Why is the head coach not standing by Dalton addressing these charges? Where is the principal of the building to speak out against these actions?
We as educators are required to protect our youth. We are mandated to report abuse, mental and physical. Yet in this case, the educators are initiating the abuse. Dalton was clearly bullied and nearly assaulted and no action was taking by the administration. Now, he is left out of a timepiece that lasts forever. I'm sure the school will come up with some excuse to fit their scenario, but let's be clear, this is all about being gay.
Coming out to family and friends is one of the most difficult things to do. Gay, lesbian, transgender, etc. It is gut wrenching and in many times life changing. Educators are supposed to support their students, not bully them. That's exactly what the adults at Betsy Layne High School have done, bully Dalton Maldonado. By pretending the incident didn't happen, it would go away. By leaving such an important photo out of the yearbook, his memory would be undermined. The coaches and administration have caused more harm to their student then they will ever know. Their own beliefs have allowed them to harm one of their students.
New York State enacted a Dignity for all Students Act a few years ago. The law was meant to protect our students from various dangers they may face in the school community. Hopefully someone in Kentucky will hold these adults responsible for their poor judgment. Dalton will be fine. He has been embraced by a community like none other, the LGBT sports community. I fear for other LGBT youth that may face the same harm and do not have that kind of support.
After marriage equality was made legal, many felt that the need for LGBT rights would go away. This case and countless others are proof that we still have so much work to do.