Fifth grader barred from giving speech on marriage equality by Queens, NY principal, later reversed by Schools Chancellor

Kameron Slade is a Queens, New York fifth grader who won his class speaking competition planned to participate in the school-wide contest with a speech about same-sex marriage. The principal of PS 195 prohibited him from giving the speech, which generated predictable (and completely justified) kerfuffle. Now Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott has overriden the principal, and young master Slade will give his speech after all.

Some people are for same-gender marriage, while others are against it. Like President Obama, I believe that all people should have the right to marry whoever they want. Marriage is about love, support, and commitment. So who are we to judge? If we judge people like this, this is a form of prejudice. We must learn to accept all differences.[...]

My mom is very open to me about same-gender marriage. However, some adults may feel uncomfortable and think it’s inappropriate to talk about this to children. I think adults must realize that as children get older, they become aware of these mature issues that are going on in the world. If children read or watch the news, they can learn about things like same-gender marriage, so what’s the point in trying to hide it?

In conclusion, I hope that everyone understands how important it is to respect everyone for who they are. Same-gender marriage is becoming more popular. I believe that same-gender marriage should be accepted worldwide and that parents and teachers should start to discuss these issues without shame to their children.

Fifth-Grader Prohibited From Giving Speech Supporting Marriage Equality (via Reddit)


  1. “Marriage is about love, support, and commitment. So who are we to judge?”

    Clever and concise. It´s sad that I have heard nothing like this from any politician.

    1. I think you are right – the argument should end with that.

      To be fair, Kameron specifically cites President Obama as having precisely that same position, in the sentence immediately preceding the one you quote.

      1. Since the Bible says eating shrimp is wrong we should all stone each other to death.

        Therefore pot should not only be legal but mandatory – how else are we all going to get stoned?

        1. I support traditional, biblical marriage — that means one man, his two cousins, and their slaves.

          Or was that the one where the guy got drunk and knocked up both his daughters?  I always get those confused.

  2. Kameron Slade is the awesomest name ever. If he doesn’t grow up to be a crimefighter I will be disappointed.

    Edit: I guess he’s kind of a crimefighter already

  3. I love how elementary school he is: the backpack on his shoulders, the mention of eating at Chili’s, “in conclusion.”

    Side-note/question: This is one of the first times I’ve heard the term “same-gender marriage.” Is this something that’s coming onto the scene as a more neutral “gay marriage,” or is it just the way he phrased it for his speech so that he wouldn’t have to say “sex” or “gay” ten times?

    1. Usually I/we use “same-sex marriage.”  It’s not really accurate to call it “gay marriage” as bisexual people get married all the time, but it is same-sex marriage if two people of the same sex are married to each other, no matter their sexual orientations.  I never had a straight marriage, but I did have an opposite-sex one…

      I would shy away from “same-gender” as a term simply because there are tons of ways of understanding gender.  Some people conflate it with sex, some see it as performance or presentation; to some it’s immutable and others a matter of choice and change.  (Sex can also be changed but that’s a pretty huge deal.)  Anyway, I think he might well have chosen the word because it’s not “sex” or “gay.”  :)

        1. Until then you can always wind bigots up. There is same sex marriage or simply marriage and heterosexual/different sex marriage or mixed marriage. Marked and unmarked terms have been reversed. How much terminology is generally determined by cultural conventions and not empirical truth?

        2. We can hope. I’d be thrilled if it ends up having about the same amount of usage as “interracial marriage,” which is something we mostly talk about in terms of when it became legal. It seems rare for people to actually rant on the subject these days, thankfully. I have high hopes for my own future. :)

  4. They really need to start teaching the Streisand effect in, like, kindergarten. I see it daily, but no one seems to learn.

    1. It’s very difficult to judge when it will kick in to be fair. We all probably do things that could provoke it, fortunately though we haven’t been unlucky enough to make the news.

      Shit happens like this everyday, you have to be unlucky to get bitten by Streisand.

  5. I still don’t get the weirdness conservative people have with their kids being exposed to gay marriage. Kids are exposed to hetero marriages all the time. What the hell is the difference? Do they think gay marriages all involve nude men with big mustaches and leather harnesses pole dancing on the altar? 
    It’s the same mentality of the people who think same-sex marriage leads to people marrying their pets and house plants.

    1. Funny how social ascetics would have such depraved imaginations. It’s almost like they’re repressing something in themselves.

      1.  Well yeah, I mean, it’s a bit of a cliche at this point, but really, as I never chose to be straight and it’s always been the most natural thing in the world for me, I can only reasonably conclude that anyone who thinks sexual orientation is a choice has had to TRY to be straight.

    2. Yeah, what if I wanted to protect a kid from excessive exposure to heterosexuality?

      Heh, last night I was watching a film with a friend and there was a rather odd but fun scene, which I think I described as “odd but adorable underwater heterosexuality.”  She found that amusing.  Maybe I should start describing more things that way.  

    3. I was listening to my favorite Catholic radio program “Women of Grace” during my daily morning commute and they gave an interesting new (to me) argument about Conservative Christian opposition to gay marriage; it’s the same as abortion. Their logic, if I understood correctly, is that apparently gay people can’t have children and so they are literally abortions just walking around (only slightly more snarky that how they put it.)

      Funny thing is that gay people can and do have children all the time in the same way infertile couples do, which I believe is something they support… but apparently this is far beyond their ability to acknowledge.

      Of course this little factoid is coming from the same program that has done shows about  Swedish Devil Rock, the evil organization known as The March of Dimes, and how Yoga is the tool of the devil. So there’s that too.

      1. How can you listen to that stuff… I sometimes have to turn off the radio out of disgust when conservatives call into otherwise-agreeable NPR shows, I can’t imagine purposefully wanting to listen to that drivel non-stop!

        1. The Anti-Gay, Anti-Choice community puts a heck of a lot of spin on their arguments when they are made for consumption by the non-religious public-at-large… they can almost sound reasoned. 

          Once you hear the unvarnished version of their objections, you can learn what they truly believe and understand why they balk at totally rational and reasonable solutions. You can’t get that version unless you listen to what to they say amongst themselves sadly. 

          The format of the “Women of Grace” show alone is dripping with irony; the hosts of “Women” of Grace is a woman and her male superior… a priest who apparently tells her what is okay to say. If the beliefs and arguments put forward during these shows (and undoubtedly in congregations around the country/world) weren’t being adopted so fervently, the show would be absolutely comical. As they stand though unfortunately it shows breathtaking hostility to any semblance of a non-theocratic state and to people who they deem “evil.”

      2.  I never knew that talk radio hosts were perpetually pregnant, to avoid the murder of innocent eggs.

      3. From a Protestant angle, I’ve heard that marriage (as an institution) is fundamentally about having and raising children, which is why it should be supported by the state. Same sex relationships are unnatural ways to raise children (because any children didn’t specifically come from that relationship), therefore they shouldn’t be encouraged or supported. But of course, this is not ‘anti-gay’, because somehow homosexuality itself is not wrong (I’m really not sure how that part works, I think it’s down to the whole ‘feelings are ok, actions are not’ idea).

        1.  Why aren’t they against marriage of infertile couples?  Why aren’t they trying to ban vasectomies?

          Because it’s not really about raising children even from a Protestant angle.

          1. I think infertile couples are fine, as theoretically they are not against having children, but if a couple decides that they don’t want any children from the start, this shouldn’t be encouraged (so vasectomies would be OK after a certain number of kids or for some other reason, I suppose). Obviously this isn’t some universal position that everyone holds to, but if anything it’s a more progressive stance than many people hold.

            What gets me is that many people claim that they support homosexuals in certain contexts, but this support never seems to be forthcoming. It’s always in another context – not for marriage, not for adopting children, not for any true acceptance into the community. Where is it OK? Outside of marriage? Not likely. In some civil ceremony? Civil ceremonies don’t involve the church, so that’s hardly ‘support’. A church blessing? I don’t see too many of those going on. There is a fairly broad spectrum of beliefs in the Protestant church, and I’m not trying to paint everyone with the same brush – just the people who claim “I’m not anti-gay, but this is attacking the sanctity of marriage”.

        2. I’m also no expert, but I think the defining of institutional marriage as a child-centric endeavor is a bit of modern revisionism put out by today’s faith-based groups. World-wide, marriage is about family but not in the religious construct, it is about family (and therefore status) connection. Who you are as a person, what rights you have, what you own and your status in society are a function of what family you belong to, which is altered or improved through marriage. 

          Children are a side issue in that they do not improve the social aspects of marriage directly, but allow the continuation of family status through the generations and offer the potential to move socially through uniting of different families. Children are important, but the institution is far more focused on the rights conveyed rather than just simply child-rearing.

          The religious conservatives would have you adopt their single-view of marriage, but you don’t need religion to need marriage- which is why it is outside of any religious definition of the act.

          1. Marriage was only ever about property. It was only practiced by people of means. It only became widespread with the development of a middle class. The issue of child-rearing only comes into it because children have historically been regarded as property, and still are to some extent.

          2. I think I should explain that this is from the perspective of the church or the state, which would grant marriage its institutional status due to the benefits it gives to society. Especially from this angle, I’d say there are a number of reasons other than the ones you gave why children are fairly central to a traditional marriage.

            They provide important numbers for areas like work and war. For the church, it’s easier to breed Christians than convert them. Through their work, they provide extra income for both the government and the church.

            They provide support to couples in their old age, relieving the burden on the state.

            Conversely, a stable family will be more likely to produce more productive citizens who are likely to adopt the values of the state.

            In many countries, mothers who have a lot of children are (or have been) seen as heroes who are benefiting their country. There’s the idea that families are central to a strong society. Within the family unit, children represented possibly the most tangible form of investment in the future, as they would be able to support their parents and continue working on any land or business that the parents had.

            Incidentally, it’s interesting to see how much marriage has changed over the past decade or two in China. In my area at least, it is very common for families to arrange marriages for their child(ren). Many women will also demand that the man provide a new apartment and car if the deal is to go through. A number of my Chinese friends have either had weddings canceled because they couldn’t provide the required amounts, or they have had to borrow large amounts of money from relatives or ask them to co-sign for large mortgages. Ironically, people seem to think that owning an apartment, even under these conditions, will provide them with more financial security. While arranged marriages have always been common, this focus on property is seen as a new and alarming development by many.

          3. @mfux5jr2:disqus  I would agree generally with what you said about the further interests of the State for marriage, but I think the centrality of children is still over-emphasizing revisionism. 
            The easy way to look at it is whether or not you have children you are/can be married, end of line, so child rearing is cannot be the sole or central purpose of marriage. If you are childless or you lose your children it has no effect on your marital status. And again as I stated in my original comment, the child-centered arguments for traditional marriage clearly overlooks the fact that gay couples can and do have children.

  6. What a wonderful, smart, well-spoken kid.  He must have some great parents, too!  So glad he was able to read his statement.  You go!

  7. Why is the kerfuffle justified? Same-sex marriage is legal in NY since last year. I guess this kerfuffle is as justified as the one over women trying to get  legal medical procedures.

    1. The kerfuffle over censoring a child from participating in an academic activity due to some fuckass bigot’s ham-handed power trip is justified, don’t you think?

      Note that the kerfuffle in this context is over the principal’s decision, not the kid’s speech itself.

      1. Yeah, maybe he misunderstood?  Otherwise that’s one heck of an asshole thing to say.  “Same-sex marriage is legal in New York so if kids aren’t allowed to talk about it why should we care?”

        1. I can’t speak for netterknitter, but I replied to him/her with the assumption that the misunderstood meaning amounted to “all the pro-gay-marriage supporters got their panties in a twist” as if the fight for legalized gay marriage in the state wasn’t already over.

          But, I only can speak for myself, so I dunno. However, just below, it does seem to have been a misunderstanding, so… all good.

    2. You have an interesting way of describing these things…  “women trying to get legal medical procedures” doesn’t seem, to be an accurate way to describe “politicians trying to make certain medical procedures illegal.”

  8. This is really great, especially from a 5th grader. He sounds very thoughtful and mature.

    (Somewhat less great is the fact that I have gotten academic papers from my university students that read exactly like this, right down to including phrases like, “Same-gender marriage is becoming more popular.” Let’s hope this kid’s education continues to foster the development of his self-expression skills between now and college.)

  9. Gay marriage is good, but it’s inaccurate to call it “marriage equality” as if only two types of marital arrangements exist among human beings. The existence of poly people is implicitly denied. Gay marriage is just as good and sacred and holy as heterosexual marriage. It doesn’t need exclusionary language tricks. Imagine if you were Mohican or Chinese or Arab and people talked about racial discrimination in a way that completely ignored you…

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