May 08, 2013 Edition

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Controversy brings
issue to forefront

Gretchen Hunt

A recent controversy involving Sloan-Hendrix School and the question as to whether a potential keynote speaker was either uninvited or not invited due to his sexuality has caused quite a stir in recent days.

Bryant Huddleston, 1990 graduate of SHHS who is also an openly gay man, stated in a letter to Mitch Walton that he was disappointed that he would not be given the opportunity to speak.

" ... for the record, just so we're clear, my words were not going to address a 'certain agenda,' but I was hoping to empower your students to continue their education. My speech would have also touched on the importance of women, like my sister, who will go out into the world and know that they can pull their chairs right up to the table of equality."

Walton responded in a statement to the media that he had never invited Huddleston to be the speaker.

"Contrary to what has been said, no invitation was extended this year to anyone," he said.

He said that while Sloan-Hendrix has had individuals speak at graduations in the past, this year, and in the future, the ceremony will only feature student speakers.

Whether an invitation was formally extended, and then rescinded, or Bryant Huddleston was simply discussed as a potential speaker and then dismissed, it does raise the question as to whether the decision was made primarily based on his lifestyle.

There are two sides to every story, and it would be an error on my part to declare either party in this situation completely right or completely wrong. However, I can say that I think the fact that it brings issues of equality into everyday conversation for many, who otherwise would not think too much about it, is a positive thing.

While these discussions are healthy, I also hope that they do not detract from what Friday night's event is about, the success of the 2013 graduating class of Sloan-Hendrix High School.

In preparing for reporting this year's honor graduates, I noticed that out of Sloan-Hendrix's 57 seniors, 20 earned the designation as honor students - more than a third of the class.

My hat's off to them, and we wish them all the best as they pursue their dreams.

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