After ‘anti-gay’ speech at Ohio high school graduation, LGBT students demand apologies

MARION COUNTY, Ohio – LGBTQ + students demanded forgiveness from high school after a speaker starting 2022 told how audiences should be in heterosexual relationships.

River Valley High School has about 510 students, according to 2021 data from the Ohio Department of Education. On Friday, about 105 of them graduated at Marion Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.

“I don’t have a lot of friends,” Osipow said.

He doesn’t fit in with his classmates, he adds. He didn’t like fish, he wasn’t an adult on the farm and he would never hunt.

“I can’t be alone around the people at my school because I feel that they won’t accept me for who I am,” she added, playing with orange, white and pink bracelets.

The school is located in Caledonia, Ohio. It’s a rural village within Marion County.

“I got small circles because I always felt a lot of the people that I went to school with, they weren’t like me,” he added. like, “I guess they’re more ‘countries.'”

He had hoped to graduate and leave school where he never felt he belonged. Graduation day, unfortunately, no reprieve for her.

“I didn’t expect it to be something that I would hear when I graduated,” he said. “It was supposed to be the day that I was finally free of everything that I experienced in high school.”

Jim McGuire was announced as a “distinguished alumni speaker” who says he “loves God and this country.”

“I prepared for an inspirational speech for graduation,” Tony Fisher, Osipow’s stepdad said. “It rather took an early biblical view and I found that it was quite appealing to readers.”

Fisher, somewhat confused as well as Osipow – but then they listened to the next statement.

“Choose a partner, I recommend,” McGuire said. “I also highly recommend making sure to choose biblical principles, you know, men and women and women and men.”

News 5’s Morgan Trau was tipped off the next day from another concerned parent about the comments McGuire made. She soon sent a video of the businessman preaching to public school students. The video is not available online, because River Valley Local School makes it private.

“People like to applaud for him when he’s done,” Osipow said. “And I was like, ‘Did you guys applaud for this man?'”

The 18 -year -old graduate was a lesbian and used the word sucker. He told News 5 that using him for writing was good.

He was present for six and a half minutes of McGuire’s speech, but he was not there.

“I think that I imagine he said so, I didn’t know that he was really real,” he added. “It can’t actually be real.”

More than just the speech was inappropriate, said Fisher. Applause was well. His mind went straight to Osipow.

“I know that he has the courage to know that it’s not the truth that is spoken there,” he said. “That’s his opinion of the truth.”

Fisher, who graduated from River Valley High School, said that this is not done by people of faith.

“A lot of people feel that they really need to impose principles among people,” he added.

The ceremony took place without hindrance, upsetting both father and daughter.

“The school allows him to live in the building and shake hands with people after graduation,” Osipow said. “They didn’t say anything to him, they didn’t trust him about anything.”

“He held his hand to me and said,‘ Oh, a good job, ’but I only walked by him because he shouldn’t be in the room after that,” he added. “I don’t feel comfortable shaking this man’s hand.”

Fisher tries to approach McGuire after the ceremony.

“I wanted to tell him that through my Catholic faith, that God loves us all,” he said. “I wanted him to hear that – I didn’t catch up with him before he hid behind the curtain.”

After two years of harassment from classmates, Osipow has dealt with comments like this. She was outted by her supposed friends when she was in junior high, and had to deal with invasive questions and hearing slurs while trying to finish school.

“I definitely have been treated a little differently now that people know who I really am,” he added. “That’s, I think, what I expect because I school in River Valley.”

It was the school’s response that most surprised him.

“I think we all hope to apologize in that email and they are just trying to brush under the carpet,” he said.

Fisher explains his disappointment.

“I’m surprised that the school didn’t quickly respond saying that it was inappropriate and inappropriate,” he said. “I know my two daughters are amazed and I’m ashamed that the school board put the man in front of my daughter and put him in front of a lot of people that day.”

News 5 reached out to the school a few days before the story aired on June 3. Superintendent Adam Wickham gave the team a call, noting that he would send their statement via email.

Included is an email statement that has been sent to News 5 multiple times. In a Wickham message, he stated that the school would “not make further statements at this time.”

The statement said, in part, “The speech was not featured by anyone on the RV Administrative team or the Board of Education.

A detailed statement is included at the end of the post. Nothing in the email or statement is there sorry. News 5 was also up to McGuire, but he did not respond to comments.

The indifferent reaction to the speech made Osipow think about the culture of homophobia at school.

“They never, like, said sorry, so I feel such a little question to me,” said the graduate. “They’re not even sorry for something we experienced at graduation.”

He is not the only one who wants to forgive. Dozens of online users and many others told News 5 that the school “doesn’t take responsibility” and “embarrasses and disappoints them not.”

Some graduates and families share with News 5 that they do not believe that the school will check speeches before he can give, saying that they check valedictorian speeches.

Fisher wants people to know that he stands with his stepson.

“I’m just a proud mother who is amazed by the power of not only my daughters, not just my daughters, but their friends who face the same situation – whether it’s kind of concerned or just only represents the next generation and what. they need to be addressed – that we leave, “he said.” I’m proud of them for that. “

High school is not good for Osipow, so this end is fitting for him, he thinks.

“I will definitely remember this graduation now would be a negative thing that I should have listened to,” he added. “I feel like I won’t really miss being in school, and I think it will be more of a relieving thing for me out of school.

“That seems to be the most I remember – is that I can finally do with it.”

River Valley is no exception here. With Ohio considering bills to ban discussion of sexuality, including lawmakers introducing their own version of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, he said now more than ever – Ohioans should say gay.

Related: Lawmakers hear Ohio version of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

“It’s scary, and people argue‘ Oh, it would be better for young kids because they don’t have to talk about gays in school, ’” he said. “I like, it’s not like changing anything.

“We learned about being straight in school – it didn’t make me straight when I was older. Like it didn’t matter. I think it’s ridiculous.”

All that Osipow wants is forgiveness, or the school to take some responsibility, but he will remain only able to send messages to boys such as him.

“Whoever you are is incredible, you shouldn’t ever be ashamed of that. People will always have something negative to say, but that won’t change who you are. You have to learn to love that part of yourself because it will always be there and There’s nothing wrong with that. “

I’ve been at the Statehouse covering debates around discussions about sexuality at school, but tonight I see how it plays out in a small town.

It came to a head when Cassidy’s graduation speaker told the audience he wasn’t in a gay relationship.

Class of 2022 Graduates and Parents,

River Valley Local Schools would like to issue the following statement regarding the 2022 River Valley High School Graduation Ceremony: As with all alumni speeches at past ceremonies, the speeches were not featured by anyone on the RV Administrative team or the Board of Education. Any views expressed by the speaker when starting a speech reflect his personal beliefs. He did not speak as an official representative of River Valley Local School. Working with the River Valley Education Council, the River Valley Administrative team will review our process for upcoming ceremonies. Above all, we want to ensure students, families, and guests receive high quality programs that focus on graduate class achievement. Welcome to Class 2022, and we hope you are the best in the future! Thank you, RV Administration.

The alumni speaker is not a member of the River Valley staff and he did not speak as an official representative of the River Valley Local School. In the interest of transparency and clarity for our stakeholders, we have also submitted transcripts of alumni speeches below. At River Valley Local Schools we honor all students, staff, and members of the Viking community

Follow WEWS statehouse reporter Morgan Trau on Twitter and Facebook.

Copyright 2022 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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