FULLERTON (CBS) — A school official publicly apologized Wednesday for removing a gay student from a campus competition after the teen voiced his support for gay marriage.
During the annual Mr. Fullerton competition at Fullerton Union High School Tuesday, contestants were asked where they saw themselves in 10 years.
Student Kearian Giertz’s response caused some controversy.
“I said, ‘Hopefully, in 10 years time, I’ll be winning Emmys, Oscars and Tonys’ — just, you know, the typical answer — and, then, I added, ‘But, more importantly, I’d really, really like to sit on the couch with the person that I love and say I’m married to them. In my case, that would be a male. And, I hope that, in 10 years time, that would be legal,'” Giertz said.
The school’s assistant principal, Joe Abell, interrupted Giertz’s speech, ushered him offstage and told him he was disqualified from the competition.
Some students said Abell’s actions were upsetting, and that they conflicted with the values of tolerance school officials encourage.
“Everyone has their right to freedom of expression and that was a right infringement right there,” said student Gabriel Nieto.
The official apologized to Giertz personally Wednesday and then got on the school’s public address system and issued an apology.
“I am truly and sincerely sorry. I made a mistake. I should have not addressed the issue in a public setting,” Abell said during his public apology.
“It’s one of those things that’s totally inappropriate,” said Barbara Kilponen, a member of the school’s Board of Trustees. “There was nothing that the youngster said that was provocative or taunting or anything he should be called on. It was a decent answer that would have satisfied anyone.”
Kilponen, however, said she was satisfied with the apology and thinks the issue should now be settled.
“He did it on the spur of the moment,” said Kilponen, who was pleased school officials quickly responded to the issue.
“I think the most important thing about any of these issues today is that you address them immediately,” Kilponen said. “Address it immediately and make a judgment that fits the situation. This is one of those 15 minutes of notoriety, but I don’t think (the assistant principal) will ever forget this.”
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