We’re here, we’re queer, and we will not be silenced. Bryce Dershem’s valedictorian speech didn’t happen according to plan, but it did happen.
Bryce, a high school student in New Jersey, demonstrated courage and visibility beautifully when school officials – allegedly the school’s principal, Dr. Robert M. Tull – cut off his microphone in the middle of his graduation speech, which began: “After I came out as queer freshman year, I felt so alone. I didn’t know who to turn to.”
The principal can be seen literally pulling the plug (approx. one minute in) on Dershem’s speech, removing his notes and telling him to read a different approved speech, because references to his sexuality and struggles with mental health seemingly weren’t the image they wanted.
Once he had his microphone reinstalled by a third party, Bryce can be seen in the video – posted to YouTube by his father – continuing to deliver his speech from memory instead. Undeterred, he carries on: “As I was saying,”
“Dr. Tull came up to the stage he grabbed the paper I brought and crumpled it in front of me, he pointed to the speech he had written for me, effectively, and told me I was to say that and nothing else” ” Dershem told WCAU.
Well done Bryce for handling it so beautifully and showing the courage to not be silenced. And congratulations!! Sending all the love your way this Pride Month!