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Vice principal removed from school after disqualifying gay student from pageant

Joe Abell of Fullerton Union High School in California is assigned to work in district office for the time being
Fullerton_Union_High_School
Photo: Orange County Register

Two weeks after he disqualified a gay student from a pageant for saying he hoped gay marriage would one day be legal, Fullerton Union High School Assistant Principal Joe Abell has been removed from the campus of the Southern California school.

Kearian Giertz was participating in the Mr. Fullerton contest when his appearance was cut short objected to the student's answer to the question 'Where do you see yourself in 10 years?'

As hundreds of people in the audience watched,  Abell came on to the stage at Plummer Auditorium and interrupted the Giertz’s speech about hoping same-sex marriage would be legal by then so he could get married.

Support for Giertz and outrage of his being publicly humiliated have grown since the April 3 incident occurred.

Fullerton Union High School Superintendent George Giokaris told the Orange County Register that Abell's future at the school is still being determined.

'[He] is working at the district office,' Giokaris said. 'I can't say where he will be tomorrow. But today he is here.'

Abell made a public apology over the schools’ public address system to all  students and staff members at the high school. Prior to making the public apology, Abell personally spoke with Giertz and asked him if the public apology would in any way make the situation worse or embarrass him. Giertz told him it was OK to make the public apology.

Giertz has said he was just being spontaneous and honest during the question-and-answer portion of the pageant, an annual competition for senior boys at the school.

The superintendent met with the student and his parents on Monday to gather more information on the incident.

'I do not want people to view Mr. Abell as a homophobic or as someone who doesn't support gay rights. That's none of anyone's business, and it's none of my business, Giertz told The Register. 'His reaction was initiated by a fear that someone would be offended.'

The student pointed out that the district has no policy in place to protect people discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

'There are no rules protecting me,' he said.

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