'You don't check your First Amendment rights at the gates of the school'
Kearian Giertz says he was just being spontaneous and honest during the question-and-answer portion of the Mr. Fullerton pageant in Orange County, CA this week.
The gay teenager was asked where he saw himself in 10 years. He said he hoped to be married and added: 'Hopefully gay marriage will be legal in 10 years in California.'
The audience cheered then looked on, stunned, when Fullerton Union High School Assistant Principal Joe Abell bolted from the wings of Plummer Auditorium and disqualified Giertz from the annual competition for senior boys at the school.
'No one should have been offended. Nobody was,' Giertz told the NBC4 television station. 'That's my opinion. You don't check your First Amendment rights at the gates of the school.'
The student acknowledged that answers for this portion of the competition – which is part beauty contest and part talent competition – were supposed to be pre-approved, in writing, prior to the event. His had not been.
But support for Giertz and outrage of his being publicly humiliated have grown since the incident occurred on Tuesday (3 April).
A group of students have been passing out letters around campus with the question: 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?' They plan to present them to Abell who has apologized to Giertz both privately and publicly.
Fullerton Joint Union High School District Superintendent George Giokaris acknowledged this week that the situation was 'not handled appropriately.'
Barbara Kilponen, a member of the district's board of trustees, tells the Long Beach Press Telegram: 'There was nothing that the youngster said that was provocative or taunting or anything he should be called on. It was a decent answer that would have satisfied anyone.'