Denied permission to speak at his own graduation, a young valedictorian from Covington, Kentucky, thought of an unconventional way to do what needed to be done.
Christian Bales, a Holy Cross High School student, intended to mention Marjory Stoneman Douglas students during the Holy Cross graduation ceremony held on Friday. Deeming his speech “too political” and “inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church,” the school prohibited Bales, as well as his classmate, Student Council President Katherine Frantz, from making their speeches, the New York Daily News reports.
Unencumbered and determined, Bales took matters into his own hands and, standing outside the auditorium surrounded by others students, used a bullhorn to deliver his message.
“‘The young people will win’ is a mantra that I’m sure many of you have heard if you’ve been attentive to the media recently. It’s a phrase adopted by the prolific [Marjory] Stoneman Douglas teenagers who are advocating for an agenda — our rights to feel secure as humans.”
Gillian Marksberry, Bales’ mother, told ABC News that the students were made aware of the school’s decision not to allow them to speak about 10 hours before the graduation ceremony, held at the Connor Convocation Center at Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, near Covington.
Marksberry said she found the decision “shocking,” adding that her son has earned the right to “have a voice.”
The horror of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting sparked a nation-wide gun control debate, and students across the country have demanded stricter gun control measures.
One of the Parkland shooting survivors, Emma González, famously helped lead a protest movement against gun violence in the United States. During a March for Our Lives protest, according to People, González stood silently in front of the microphone for several minutes, crying, as the crowd chanted “never again.”
The Stoneman Douglas High School shooting occurred on February 14, 2018. The Parkland school shooting is, according to the CNN, one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.
Shooter Nikolas Cruz opened fired inside the building, killing 14 students and three teachers. He used an AR-15-style rifle in the shooting. Later that day, following a tip, Cruz was arrested in a nearby neighborhood. Cruz was charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
Apart from expressing his support for the Parkland shooting survivors and advocating for gun control, Christian Bales has advocated for a number of things, including the removal of a statue honoring Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederate States, from the Kentucky State Capitol.
Bales has an academic scholarship to attend the University of Louisville this fall, where he plans to major in biology.