Bil Browning

Gay kiss gets blacked out

Filed By Bil Browning | June 25, 2007 2:46 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Andre Jackson, censorship, homophobic behavior, kiss, LGBT youth, Marion Bolden, New Jersey, Newark, yearbook

gay-kiss.jpgLet's play an easy game, shall we? When you see this picture, do you consider it:

  1. illicit
  2. provocative
  3. a simple kiss

Yeah, I chose option C too.

Newark, New Jersey Superintendent of Schools Marion Bolden chose "illicit" and "provocative." The homophobic school official ordered the picture blacked out with a marker before yearbooks were distributed. Several pictures of straight kids smooching? Perfectly fine. No "retouching" necessary.

Even worse, one of the students pictured, Andre Jackson, had paid an extra $150 to include a page he designed himself in the yearbook - the page featuring him kissing his boyfriend. And worst of all, they let him know ten minutes before they gave everyone their books - and actually held up the distribution until all the yearbooks had the picture blacked out. Can anyone say, "refund?"

Andre Jackson said he never thought he would offend anyone when he bought a page in the yearbook and filled it with several photographs, including one of him kissing his boyfriend.

But Newark Superintendent of Schools Marion Bolden called the photograph "illicit" and ordered it blacked out of the $85 yearbook before it was distributed to students at a banquet for graduating seniors Thursday.

"It looked provocative," she said. "If it was either heterosexual or gay, it should have been blacked out. It's how they posed for the picture."

Russell Garris, the assistant superintendent who oversees the city's high schools, brought the photograph to Bolden's attention Thursday afternoon. He was concerned the picture would be controversial and upsetting to parents, Bolden said.
Ripping the page out entirely was considered but, Bolden said, it was decided blacking it out with a marker would lessen the damage to the yearbooks.

Oh, don't tell the Super about the picture of one guy holding his girlfriend on his lap with his hands on her thighs. She might order a book burning.

Censorship and homophobia - two great American values being taught by the Newark school district. Karl Rove would be so proud!

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Jen Jorczak | June 25, 2007 3:34 PM

That is freakin' RIDICULOUS. It may even beat the principal in Ft. Wayne who got the journalism teacher fired. well, maybe not. Sigh.

Lynn David | June 25, 2007 7:02 PM

I'm seeing news stories that the district now apoligizes or regrets or 'is sorry for' blacking out the picture. Like this from

Superintendent Marion A. Bolden issued an apology to the student, Andre Jackson, according to a statement released by the district on Monday. "The decision was based, in part, on misinformation that Mr. Jackson was not one of our students and our review simply focused on the suggestive nature of the photograph," the district said. "Superintendent Marion A. Bolden personally apologizes to Mr. Jackson and regrets any embarrassment and unwanted attention the matter has brought to him," according to the statement. The district said it would reissue an "un-redacted version" of the 2007 yearbook to any student of East Side High School who wants one.

Can't revoke the sentiment that was truly there though.

Thanks, Lynn. Alex posted an update to my post right after this one.

A. J. Lopp | June 26, 2007 10:20 PM

Actually, I choose option "D. Hot!"