Dalton Maldonado was the starting point guard for Betsy Layne High School in Kentucky. But even though that’s an important position, Maldonado was omitted from the school’s two-page spread devoted to the basketball team. Why? Because he had come out as gay during his senior year.
Outsports reports that the soon-to-be college freshman was devastated when he got his yearbook and found that while all the other seniors were featured in a tribute to the sports team, he had been removed. And while one could speculate that the school just fucked up (my own high school printed that my future plans included “going out with cartoon animals” instead of “outwitting them” due to a typo), based on the treatment Maldonado’s received from his school in the past, it’s unlikely that this was just an oversight. In fact, Outsports has reported on Maldonado’s harassment at the hand of others—he was bullied at a basketball game—so extensively that it’s difficult to think that this was just a mistake someone made and more likely a punishment for Maldonado’s sexual orientation as well as his refusal to accept that the people around him would treat him badly for it.
According to Maldonado himself, he’s had a hard time since coming out. Neither his parents nor his school accept him and while he’s planning for a bright and positive future, this latest incident of erasure—his reports of anti-gay harrassment were denied despite eye witnesses— is a huge slap in the face.
From his Facebook:
...this brings us to summer of 2015! My family didn’t, and doesn’t, support me being gay as many don’t! We have had countless arguments over my sexuality, and they do not want me bringing my boyfriend around (when I have one.) However, they weren’t the only ones who didn’t like me coming out. My school also didn’t approve. I would hear things that teachers would say, and many media outlets would say I “claimed” this happened in spite of the pictures and text messages I had from my coaches as proof. Then I had a person officiated with the school tell me what they had learned about the school attempting to cover up the whole stor. 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 may be paying the incredibly unfair price of speaking out about his treatment in a place hostile to any sexual orientation besides hetero, but putting the school on blast and demanding that the principal and other school officials answer for the actions they took against him for speaking out about his experience will hopefully lead not only to an apology, but an investigation into the school’s policy. Additionally, it may give other other kids who identify as gay or lesbian the motivation and courage to continue standing up for themselves, even when the adults who are supposed to lead by example don’t.
According to a statement released by the school district, Maldonado’s picture was removed in error due to a miscommunication between him and the photographer. The school plans to create and distribute inserts of students who were omitted from the yearbook to anyone who has purchased a copy of the book and would like one. Small comfort and likely not the whole truth.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of Dalton Maldonado