Never mind the halls of Congress or even the White House.
The case for legalizing gay marriage is being made in New York, but not in the mayor’s office or even the state’s capital. It’s coming from Kameron Slade, a fifth-grade student at PS 195 in New York City.
When the bespectacled student was tasked with giving a speech in front of his entire school, he went big, choosing to take on the controversial topic of same-sex marriage.
“It just happened that we were watching the news one day and the president was on mentioning that he supported gay marriage,” Kameron’s mom, who asked that her first name not be used, told ABC News.com today.
“He said, ‘I want to do something very different. I don’t want to do the same thing that everybody does,’” she said. “I asked him how he knew about it [gay marriage] and what he felt.
“He said, ‘Mom, I don’t want to say the word sex.’ So he changed it to say gender marriage,” she said. “So I said, ‘Write about it, write it all out and that’s what he did.”
Kameron was supposed to deliver the speech during a contest Friday but the school’s principal, Beryl Bailey, intervened, fearing the speech would be inappropriate for fellow students.
“She said that people have different opinions on it and that some parents may not want their children to learn about this type of topic,” Kameron told NY1, which first reported the principal’s decision. “I was really looking forward to it. I thought that this was a real good winning speech.”
Text of Kameron’s prepared speech, ironically, seemed to predict the principal’s decision.
“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?” he wrote, in part.
Instead of taking on gay marriage, Kameron delivered a speech on preventing animal cruelty in front of his schoolmates.
He didn’t win the competition with that speech but the media attention surrounding the principal’s decision forced the city’s Department of Education to take a second look.
In a compromise, schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott allowed Kameron to read his speech at school Monday, but only to his fellow fifth-grade classmates during a special assembly.
“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,” Kameron reportedly told his classmates in the speech.
“…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.”
Kameron’s mother says the family was disappointed that Kameron was not able to deliver his speech as intended for the school’s competition, but that the compromise proved effective.
“The speech went well,” she said. “He [Kameron] was able to say his speech, so he was very happy about that.”