Small Minds

June 27, 2007

Maybe you’ve already heard the story about Marion Bolden, the school offcial in Newark, N.J., who earned herself a special annex in the Museum of Bigotry when she ordered her staff to use black magic markers to blot out a photo of a male student kissing his boyfriend that was in the school yearbook for East Side High School.

Bolden’s explanation for what happened is almost as infuriating as the act itself:

The embattled schools chief has spent the last few days apologizing for ordering staff to use black marker to blot out Jackson’s picture while leaving those of heterosexual couples untouched.

Bolden said she doesn’t normally review yearbooks, but was quickly shown the page of Jackson kissing boyfriend David Escobales, 19, at a luncheon last Thursday and told it would likely upset parents. The picture appeared on a page in a special tribute section of the book students paid $150 for in addition to the $85 yearbook fee.

After ruling out a proposal to rip the page out completely, Bolden told her staff to black out the 4-by-5 inch photo with marker before distributing it at a senior banquet later that night. She made the call without reviewing the rest of the book and said until earlier this week she hadn’t seen the other photos of heterosexual couples kissing.

The student, Andre Jackson, is going to get an unmarked copy of the yearbook tonight. Apparently the other students, who if the story is correct shelled out something like $235 bucks for their yearbooks, will have to content themselves with their vandalized copies.

I would prefer to see that Bolden and the staffers who helped perpetrate this disgrace be billed for a complete reissue of the yearbook. Since that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, I would suggest that one of the vandalized copies be kept on display in the school lobby as a reminder of the kind of prejudice that can make a couple of dozen supposed adults think they are entitled to spend a few hours scrawling black ink across the pages of a school yearbook in order to blot out the image of a young man kissing his boyfriend.

This school has a problem that runs a lot deeper than the question of what to do about a yearbook.

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