Dalton Maldonado

Teachers and parents were all absent as gay high school basketball player suffered abuse and was purposely left out of yearbook

Don’t get me wrong, we have made a lot of progress, as a country, towards fairness and equality for the LGBT community. But there is one place that seems to have missed the memo, the school system.

At Betsy Layne High School, in Kentucky, Dalton Maldonado was removed from his school’s basketball team two page spread in the yearbook. Maldonado was a point guard for the team and says he was erased from the yearbook because of a heated encounter with a rival team during a basketball tournament.

The young basketball star was hit with homophobic slurs by the competition and while under pressure, he came out to everyone in the gym. “I’m gay. I’m gay, okay,” said Maldonado. That was not the way he wanted to come out and it’s definitely not the way he should have had to came out.

His announcement of his sexuality was forced out of him due to anger, frustration, and annoyance. The homophobic slurs shouldn’t have been spoken at a school sanctioned event at all. Where were the teachers, coaches, and parents during this encounter?

The situation escalated when Maldonado and his team were leaving the tournament. The rival team pounded on Maldonado’s bus and screamed “faggot” and continued to follow the bus in their cars, only to make shouting gestures and spill out more derogatory terms. Again, I repeat, where are the parental figures?

In an “alleged” attempt to erase the incident from Betsy Layne’s history, Maldonado was taken out of the basketball section of the year book. As you would expect, he was heartbroken. “I recently saw my senior yearbook, I flipped right to the sports basketball page only to find my senior basketball picture missing… which devastated me,” Maldonado posted on Facebook.

When Dalton Maldonado went to the school’s administration about the hiccup, they “brushed off” the mistake and went about their day. “They just acted like it wasn’t a big deal. They didn’t apologize. That was the only thing I was asking for,” said Maldonado.

To me, it seems that the teenagers are not the only ones that need to be educated on equality and fairness. The teachers need to be educated on how LGBT members, especially young people, deserve the same respect as everyone else.

When Maldonado went public with the disgusting events that had happened, the school finally decided to speak up. The school issued an apology, but not before it placed blame on Maldonado for not presenting an edited version of his professional basketball photo to the photographer.

LGBT history should be taught in schools, just like African American history is. Both are apart of American history and last time I checked America was comprised of people from different races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations.

Maybe if the attackers were educated on the struggles that the LGBT community had to endure in order to get to where we are today, the situation could have been avoided. Likewise, the teachers need to open a book and read about Stonewall. Their handling of the yearbook mishap, as well as the basketball tournament debacle, was horrendous.

Dalton Maldonado could have easily been one of their children or a brother to a member of the rival team. How would they react to the disturbing news that Maldonado had to relay to his family?

Maldonado plans to keep reminding people of the incident, in order to help the next generation of LGBT students. “I’m sure it doesn’t help seeing that the school is being negative to me. That’s why I’m not giving up,” said Maldonado.

I applaud you Mr. Maldonado and I stand by you. This is a perfect example of how equality for LGBT students has been overlooked.

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