An Idaho teenager was barred by Kellog High School administrators from participation in his graduation ceremony for giving his opinion on biology. 18-year-old Travis Lohr said during a recent assembly, "Guys are guys and girls are girls are girls there is no in-between."
Friday evening, over 100 students and parents protested outside the school with chants of "Let him walk," holding signs that read "Freedom of speech?" to get the administrators to change their minds.
Lohr addressed the crowd Friday night when he said, "I would like to thank everybody here for supporting me, they're still not gonna let me walk, but they can't take my diploma from me." He continued, "I just appreciate all the support from everybody coming out together. I won't forget this. Thank you."
According to the Shoshone News-Press, the school district made the students scheduled to speak, get their speeches approved and not go "off-script," which Lohr allegedly did.
In an interview with Idaho Freedom Foundation, the 18-year-old said, "I had wrote something before, and I decided to change my statement. About an hour before, they had given our cards back."
He claimed in another interview, "I was never told I couldn't say what I said ... I didn’t find it to be offensive to anybody – and I didn’t direct it toward any groups specifically.”
Lohr was previously warned to keep his nose clean after a senior prank landed him in hot water with school administrators. “They informed me that they think I’m going to have an outburst at graduation,” he said. "I get the senior prank thing – but that was more of a group thing. I haven’t had a problem all year. I just think my message was taken the wrong way.”
"I feel that I shouldn’t be punished for believing in something that I believe,” Lohr said. "It’s more that people took it the wrong way. Everyone can speak freely, I can’t see why I can’t voice my opinion.”
“I would love to walk in my graduation ceremony. I don’t believe that I should be punished for what I said. I wasn’t directing it at anybody or any groups, it’s just something that I believe in.” He added, "Kids nowadays really support gay people, transgender people, and it wasn’t targeted at that but there’s a lot of confusion about genders in the world today and I figured that underclassmen might find something in me saying that. There’s a lot of support for other genders and other groups, but yet I don’t see any support for people who just believe in two (genders). I don’t have any hatred toward gay people or transgenders – just like I hope they wouldn’t have any resentment toward me for believing what I believe.”
Under Federal law, Kellogg School District is forbidden from discussing the accusations unless Lohr waives his FERPA rights.
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