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Valedictorian’s mic cut after speaking about his sexuality

Valedictorian’s mic cut after speaking about his sexuality

A South Jersey high school valedictorian said school officials cut his mic after he began speaking about his LGBTQ identity at graduation.

Bryce Dershem’s speech at Eastern Regional High School in Voorhees last Saturday touched on his experiences with sexuality, mental illness and disordered eating, according to Philadelphia’s NBC 10.

“After I came out as queer freshman year, I felt so alone. I didn’t know who to turn to,” Dershem said — before the audio was reportedly cut.

The school principal then walked to the podium to confiscate a copy of Dershem’s speech, according to video of the event obtained by the station.

“Dr. Tull came up to the stage he grabbed the paper I brought and crumpled it in front of me,” Dershem told the outlet. “He pointed to the speech he had written for me, effectively, and told me I was to say that and nothing else.”

During the valedictory address, Bryce Dershem’s microphone suddenly cut out when he spoke about coming out as queer.
During the valedictory address, Bryce Dershem’s microphone suddenly cut out when he spoke about coming out as queer.
Youtube

The principal then gave the top student a new microphone, while trying to play off the incident as a technical issue, Dershem said.

The valedictorian picked up where he left off — and defiantly recited the old speech from memory, according to the report.

The address reportedly went over well with Dershem’s classmates, but not with school officials.

Dershem alleges Eastern Regional principal Robert Tull crumbled up the original speech when  he approached the podium to find a replacement microphone.
Dershem alleges Eastern Regional principal Robert Tull crumbled up the original speech when he approached the podium to find a replacement microphone.
Youtube

Eastern Camden County Regional School District Superintendent Robert Cloutier said graduation speeches are supposed to contain messages about educational experiences and the future of the class.

“Every year, all student speakers are assisted in shaping the speech, and all student speeches — which are agreed upon and approved in advance — are kept in the binder on the podium for the principal to conduct the graduation ceremony,” Cloutier said in a statement to the station.

Dershem told the outlet that administrators warned him not to mention his sexuality and personal problems, telling him that graduation was not “his therapy session.”

“I did feel censored,” Dershem said. “I felt as though they were trying to regulate the message I was going to say and take away the parts of my identity that I’m really proud of.”

Graduation attendees could be heard pleading for Dershem to finish the speech as the microphone is replaced.
Graduation attendees could be heard pleading for Dershem to finish the speech as the microphone is replaced.
Youtube

Dershem also draped a rainbow flag over his cap and gown after being told not to, he told the outlet.

The whiz kid said he just wanted to inspire his classmates to be themselves.

“Part of our identity, our year, our struggle is 2021,” Dershem said in his speech. “We’re still here though. We adopted to something we never thought possible.”

About the author

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James Partridge

James has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Stock Market Pioneer one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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