ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (WCCO) — School leaders at Benilde-St. Margaret asked that a newspaper article be removed from the website after it caused controversy.
The article, called “Life As A Gay Teenager,” touches on teen bullying and suicide. It had nearly 100 comments after a day, some of which were not positive.
When 17-year-old Sean Simonson put his thoughts and personal experiences to paper, he only saw opportunity. An opinion writer for Benilde’s newspaper, Simonson hoped to start a conversation among his peers.
“So I kind of wanted to put that out there so that people could sort of understand things from my perspective,” said Simonson. “I naively thought that people couldn’t really refute my personal experiences.”
The article received so much attention that school officials stepped in, asking that it to be taken down.
In a statement, the administration said the school is “committed to ensuring that all students are safe, respected and protected,” and that the online comments created a disrespectful environment and caused confusion about Catholic teaching.
Some critics of the removal called it “censorship.”
“I kind of liked that it sparked this discussion, because I feel like it’s something that people need to talk about. But I can understand sort of from their perspective,” he said.
But gay rights advocate Rebecca Waggoner of Outfront Minnesota believes the school missed an opportunity to open up the dialogue on a number of issues.
“I would argue that taking the entire thing down simply sends the message that, ‘If I say enough hateful things,’ then, ‘We are going to take away all of it and we’re not going to have any discussion about it,'” said Waggoner.
Simonson said he would write a similar article again, if it keeps the discussion going.