The case between Kentucky’s Betsy Lane High School and a gay basketball player is far from straightforward. He alleges they purposely and maliciously kept his photo out of his yearbook. The district claims his pic was omitted by mistake — and places the blame on the student.
At the heart of the argument are plenty of hurt feelings for a young basketball player whose coming out to his family didn’t go so well, as well as an accusation of bullying and a cover-up.
For Dalton Maldonado, he wants the story out there so that the gay students who succeed him at the Kentucky high school he just graduated from won’t feel so excluded.
“I’m sure it doesn’t help seeing that the school is being negative to me. That’s why I’m not giving up,” Maldonado told The New York Daily News. “There are other kids … that are scared to come out.”
The story really begins in December. That’s when Dalton said he was called a “f****t” in front of his teammates by a rival team during a tournament in Lexington, Kentucky. The basketball player said he was openly outed, verbally harassed on the court, and berated after the game, WKYT.
The team’s assistant coach and other witnesses confirmed this harassment, and that the other players banged on the side of the bus while yelling out more slurs, then chased the bus in their cars. Police were called. Despite this corroboration, the district brushed off the incident as false.
“Descriptions of pounding on bus windows, car chases through the streets of Lexington, hotel lockdowns and police escorts went beyond hyperbole, to reach the bounds of outright fabrication,” the district’s stated earlier this summer.
Maldonado has claimed that the yearbook omission is an attempt to cover up this incident, and is a reaction to his coming out.
The photo spread in question is one that exclusively features the basketball team. Alongside a picture of the entire team, each player has his own portrait displayed; Dalton said his was missing. Administration looked into his complaint and concluded that the omission was a mistake.
The basketball player, however, accuses them of being dismissive.
“They just brushed it off like, oh. They didn’t apologize. That’s what’s hurting the most.”
The Kentucky district isn’t backing down or giving in. And they actually place the blame for the omission squarely on Maldonado himself. It had nothing to do with the fact that he’s homosexual, they claim: the young man had requested the digital file of his picture for “approval and editing.” When he returned the file, his photo was missing.
Plus, his picture is in the yearbook 15 times.
Outsports.com is firmly in Dalton’s corner, certain that the district would “come up with some excuse to fit their scenario, but let’s be clear, this is all about being gay.” The outlet also accuses the Kentucky school of deliberately bullying him since the December incident.
As for the recent graduate, he’s thinking about other gay athletes.
“My big thing is gay athletes who are not out right now. I just want them to know they are supported. Here is someone out there that is going to have their back and for them not to be scared to come out. But my story might seem negative. Obviously, negative stuff has happened to me like the yearbook incident (and) all of this stuff. In the end so much great stuff has came out of it.”
[Photo Courtesy Twitter]