Nat Werth was the valedictorian of this year’s graduating class at Sheboygan Lutheran High School in Wisconsin, but unlike his predecessors who finished at the top of their class, he wasn’t allowed to give a speech at graduation.
That’s because, according to him, administrators didn’t want him telling the crowd he’s gay.
“When the administration looked at my speech, I think they were looking for me to misstep, to say something so that I couldn’t give my speech at graduation,” Werth said. “Deep down, I knew that they didn’t trust me.”
“I told them that I wanted to work together to create a speech that would be appropriate to give at graduation and they didn’t want to hear it,” Werth said. “They said that their suspicions had been confirmed and they didn’t trust me to give what I had written, regardless if we worked together or not.”
Here’s some of what he wanted to say:
“On my own journey to self-acceptance, I have trekked through the depths of depression, found that God’s love is endless, and embraced the fact that I’m gay… Absolutely no one should have to go through what I have gone through simply to come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin. God created everyone just the way they are and never intended for the church to disenfranchise an entire group of people. The five passages of scripture that conservative denominations claim “invalidate” homosexuality are either outdated, mistranslated, or misinterpreted in their respectively biblical, cultural, and historical contexts. Meanwhile, depending on the translation, the Bible mentions “love” over 500 times. I sincerely believe that the next generation of Christians will eradicate homophobia in the church and proclaim God’s love to the LGBT community.”
Werth says the administrators removed that entire section from the speech. He offered to work with them to rewrite it until they reached a compromise, but the administrators apparently told he father they didn’t trust him not to deliver that first draft.
It’s a weird thing for them to say. A kid with a 4.0 GPA was obviously dependable enough to do the necessary work to become valedictorian… but he can’t be trusted to deliver the speech he promises to give?
The school, of course, didn’t respond to the media’s request for comment.
At least he got the last laugh by going to the press and telling his side of the story. If the goal was to point out the sort of faith-based bigotry that LGBTQ people have to deal with, he succeeded. He’s received an outpouring of support from the public, too, including from the Lutheran ministry on the campus of Boston’s Northeastern University, where he’ll be attending this fall.
But the school, ever silent and not even issuing any kind of apology for what happened, is proving that it’s not a safe place for LGBTQ students. What a disgraceful group of administrators.
(Screenshot via WISN)