IMBODEN, AR (AP/KAIT) - A 1990 Sloan-Hendrix High School graduate who is now a television producer in Los Angeles says an invitation for him to speak at the school's graduation ceremony was rescinded because he's gay.
Bryant Huddleston says in a letter to the editor that he's disappointed and that Superintendent Mitch Walton chose to make him "a hotbed controversial issue." Walton would not say why Huddleston isn't speaking -but said several of the five school board members were against it. He would not identify those who were opposed.
The board president is Steve Huddleston - Bryant Huddleston's father. Steve Huddleston says he plans to resign at the end of the school year after his daughter's graduation. Efforts to reach other board members were unsuccessful.
Sunday, Superintendent Walton responded to Huddleston's letter with the following statement:
"Sloan-Hendrix has had individuals to speak at graduation in the past. Contrary to what has been said, no invitation was extended this year to anyone. As superintendent, I have the authority to decide about who the speaker will be or whether we have a speaker at all. The school board does not vote on speakers for graduation.
This year, Mr. Steve Huddleston, a board member, suggested his son as a speaker. BryantHuddleston graduated from Sloan-Hendrix in 1990 and went on to success in the entertainmentindustry. He was never invited by me to be the graduation speaker. After visiting informally with board members, no agreement was reached as to who should be invited to speak. Therefore, my decision was to do what had been discussed in the past—to discontinue the use of outside speakers and thereby shorten an already lengthy graduation program.
Sloan-Hendrix has exceptional graduates. Graduation this year and in the future will feature only student speakers. Graduation is a celebration of the accomplishments of Sloan-Hendrix students and a time to let those students shine for their families and the community at large. We welcome the presence of everyone in the community to share in this event."