It has been less than a month since a Florida student body president was prevented from saying he was gay in his commencement address.
In Ohio, however, a different commencement speaker was given a platform to voice his opposition to LGBT marriage on the basis that it's against "biblical principles," the Columbus Dispatch reported.
"It is currently some people’s thoughts to be in vogue to diminish or play down biblical principles," proclaimed Jim McGuire, the owner of a manufacturing company. "It is what established us, it is what continues to establish us through the years. Everyone in every country in this planet lives by calendar that was based on 2022 years ago, it was established by Jesus Christ, and we need to remember that. I promise any time you spend learning God‘s word will not be subtracted from your life."
He went on to tell the River Valley High School graduates to get married to different-sex people.
"Choose a spouse, I suggest. I also strongly suggest to make sure to choose biblical principles, you know a male with a female and female with a male," the speech continued.
One 2018 graduate was at the speech to support her sister and posted on Facebook that she "felt like crying" over the words and the few people in the crowd clapping.
"When he made the comment that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, my jaw dropped to the floor, and I honestly thought I was hearing it wrong," said Alexis Osipow.
"I had to look around and see if other people were having the same reaction that I was, and they were. I felt like crying when I heard some people in the crowd clapping. But I was absolutely outraged and so were my parents and brother. I heard people behind me whispering about how inappropriate the comment was as well," she recalled.
She wrote that what was supposed to be a special and happy moment for the teens was overshadowed by the bigotry of one man the school invited and didn't think to check his speech.
Robb Koons, an older graduate also, posted about his disappointment by writing on Facebook that he was "appalled" that the school allowed someone to give a speech and "allowed that person just preach and basically tell the new graduates that if you don’t follow god or if you are gay, you are wrong! This is absolute BS! This is one of the biggest moments of their lives and to have to listen to that, it was very unacceptable! I can’t help to think there were kids sitting there that were like me where we still can’t be ourselves because of bigots like the guy that gave the speech! Shame on you River Valley Local Schools."
"I haven’t had many shameful moments as a River Valley alum but seeing on TikTok the homophobic rhetoric out of the guest speaker at last night’s graduation for the class of 2022 was really sad," Jimmy Longo also posted on Facebook.
"Catching wind of a graduation speaker at a local highschool (sic) back where I’m from- River Valley," wrote Billy Peck. "Apparently during a time where he should’ve been offering words of encouragement, he decided to go on a homophobic rant. I guarantee there were LGBTQ youth forced to listen in silence while he spouted his hateful rhetoric."
The Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities announced that its mission "is that of inclusion of all people. We are learning the facts of this incident and will be meeting with the county commissioners to discuss his appointed position as a board member."
Residents of the community are already preparing to speak out at the next school board meeting, asking how such a message was approved.
“Still, we are an agency that believes in inclusion for all, so obviously we took this very seriously," MCBDD Superintendent Cheryl Plaster said.
She reached out to Mr. McGuire to address the incident, and he said that he "hopes to not make things difficult for us here at the DD board." He refused to comment further.
"As with all alumni speeches in past ceremonies, the speech was not reviewed by anyone on the RV Administrative team or Board of Education," the school revealed. "Any views expressed by the speaker during his commencement speech reflected his personal beliefs. He was not speaking as an official representative of River Valley Local Schools."
It's unknown if any student speakers had their speeches reviewed.
McGuire's company has faced the wrath of the internet, with people flocking to the Google listing for his business to leave negative reviews. A search of the political contributions of Mr. McGuire reveals just one past donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The school has made the YouTube video of the commencement address "private."
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