The valedictorian for a Kentucky high school gave his commencement address through a bullhorn outside the graduation venue after being told parts of his speech were too political.
Christian Bales, now a graduate of Holy Cross High School in Covington, wasn't told until 10 hours prior to Friday's ceremony that he could not give his speech, according to WLWT. The school's student council president, Katherine Frantz, was told the same.
Their speeches were "aggressive, angry, confrontational" and too personal for the graduation stage, the school principal told the students, according to WCPO.
Instead of being silenced, the two gave their planned speeches following the ceremony outside the Thomas More College auditorium through a bullhorn, surrounded by their classmates and their families.
Bales' speech mentioned Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students who campaigned for reformed gun laws and his own classmates who attended a March for Our Lives rally in January in Kentucky. He repeated the mantra "The young people will win" throughout his speech, which has been shared in a Google Doc.
"Throughout the past four years at Holy Cross, I’ve learned how to utilize my voice to advocate for my beliefs as an ethical individual," Bales said in his speech. "I’ve faced opposition in a number of scenarios, but my voice continued to grow in intensity as I faced more adversity. Rather than allowing opposition to silence us, we must utilize it as empowerment."
According to Frantz in an op-ed published by the River City News, her and Bales' speeches were too political for the Diocese of Covington and went against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Her speech, which the River City News published, highlighted her class' accomplishments and mentioned how they all have grown since their freshmen years.
"Christian and I have worked for four years to earn the right to speak as valedictorian and student council president at graduation. I was shocked and upset when that honor was taken away from us on the morning of graduation," she said in her op-ed. "My speech is about trust in God, hope, and confidence in the future. Those are the lessons that the staff and faculty of Holy Cross gifted me with."
A statement from the Diocese's Director of Communications claimed the students did not submit their speeches in a timely matter.
Bales believes he and Frantz were treated unfairly due to their advocacy for issues of social justice, according to WCPO.
"The president is my best friend and we've been two huge advocates for social reform in our community, which has likely put us on the radar for the Diocese," Bales said.
Bales told WKRC that Friday's events will not silence him.
"I think I'm going to keep fighting for what I believe in," Bales said. "I'm going to keep using my megaphone and intensifying my voice."