This year’s valedictorian at Sheboygan Lutheran High School was stripped of the opportunity to give his speech at graduation — and he believes it’s because he’s gay.
When Nat Werth turned in an early draft of his speech, he didn’t think the administration would allow him to keep the references he made to his struggle to accept being gay. But he expected that they would work with him to come up with a version of his speech that the school felt was appropriate and that still reflected what Nat wanted to say.
But instead of giving him notes or discussing the speech with him, the school administration allowed the salutatorian to deliver a speech at the ceremony.
“I told them I’d be willing to take it out, but they didn’t trust me, because that’s when they found out I was gay,” Werth said.
He also said this isn’t the first time he’s felt discriminated against at Sheboygan Lutheran. The administration didn’t let him join the dance team, he said, despite approval from the coach.
A representative for the school, Executive Director Paul Gnan, wouldn’t comment directly on the speech, but did say: “There are policies in our handbook that talk about our faith and our belief system and what it’s based on.”
But Sheboygan Press reports that the handbook doesn’t have any references to LGBTQ students or policies that would directly prohibit Werth’s speech.
Regardless, Werth is ready to move on from his high school and its oppressive policies.
“A lot of people have said they feel bad for me, but I’d rather have people feel happy that someone is finally standing up to the administration [and] speaking up for what’s right and trying to change Lutheran High School for the better,” he said.
“I want to leave behind a school that won’t treat anyone the way that I was treated.”