More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
#LetDominicSpeak: Support Gay Catholic High School Graduation Speaker and Graduating Class
Dominic Sheahan-Stahl, a third-generation alumnus of Sacred Heart Academy, in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, was invited last fall to be the keynote speaker for the graduation class of 2012, which includes his brother Willi. Shortly after announcing his engagement to his partner via Facebook, the administration at Sacred Heart Academy, under pressure from Bishop Joseph R. Cistone of the Diocese of Saginaw, rescinded Dominic’s speaking engagement. The school’s principal made a public apology for ousting Sheahan-Stahl and has since taken a three-day paid leave of absence.
After being disinvited from speaking at his high school alma mater simply because he is gay, Dominic Sheahan-Stahl announced that he will address students from the graduating class of Sacred Heart Academy at ‘Graduation for All: Live Through Love,’ a student-organized ceremony scheduled for this Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM in Warriner Hall at Central Michigan University. Several students from the graduating class are expected to attend to show support for Sheahan-Stahl and to take a stand in support of LGBT equality.
Nearly 6,000 supporters have signed a Change.org petition created by seniors at Sacred Heart Academy to stand with Sheahan-Stahl. Groups of Sacred Heart Academy students have also created a YouTube video, Facebook page and are spreading the word on Twitter using hashtag #LetDominicSpeak. After leading online efforts to show support for Dominic, Willi and his friend Lexi (another one of Dominic’s many young supporters), were elected king and queen at Sacred Heart’s prom.
“Through the outpouring of love and support that I've received from family, friends, Sacred Heart students and many people I've never even met, I've come to realize that a majority of Catholics support their LGBT brothers and sisters,” said Dominic Sheahan-Stahl. “I was always taught that God is love and I hope that that my brother and other students will come away from my speech with the knowledge that all people deserve to be treated equally.”
Dominic has written an open letter to Bishop Cistone, inviting him to hear Dominic’s speech at Central Michigan University, and to have a dialogue about the speech.
“It is so encouraging to see how Catholics have taken the lead in turning this sad situation around,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA, the nation’s largest organization of LGBT Catholics and their supporters. “So many of the students, families, staff from the school, and the Sheahan-Stahl family have acted with love, integrity, and creativity. This reflects how Catholics live our faith every day. We are delighted to see community being built in the face of the hierarchy’s efforts to exclude and divide.”
“Sending the message to Michigan’s youth that they, or members of their family, are somehow less than everyone else because they are gay is dangerous, inaccurate and should be addressed immediately,” said Denise Brogan-Kator, Executive Director of Equality Michigan. “Sacred Heart’s actions are yet another reminder that the fight to protect our kids from harassment and exclusion is still present. School districts across the nation should use this as an opportunity to draft policies based on the State Board of Education’s model anti-bullying policy,” she continued.
GLAAD is working with Dominic to share his story, and the story of the courageous class of 2012 at Sacred Heart Academy. We call on the media to share the story of Sacred Heart with fairness and accuracy.
Visit Let Dominic Speak. Support Dominic Sheahan-Stahl by signing the petition on Change.org and liking the Let Dominic Speak page on Facebook. Both the petition and Facebook page have nearly 6000 supporters already.