Wyoming school officials back off from blocking senior photo with gay pride flag

By Dustin Bleizeffer
— January 29, 2013

On Monday, January 28, WyoFile reported that Worland High School officials initially banned a senior photo of a student holding a gay pride flag from the school’s yearbook for fear that it was too political.

Worland High School senior Matt Jolley. School officials said the inclusion of the gay pride flag is too political for inclusion in the school’s yearbook unless Jolley buys an ad for its placement. On Tuesday, school officials reversed their stance on the issue and said the photo will be allowed in the yearbook, like any other senior photo. (Courtesy Matt Jolley — click to enlarge)
Worland High School senior Matt Jolley. School officials said the inclusion of the gay pride flag is too political for inclusion in the school’s yearbook unless Jolley buys an ad for its placement. On Tuesday, school officials reversed their stance on the issue and said the photo will be allowed in the yearbook, like any other senior photo. (Courtesy Matt Jolley — click to enlarge)

The student, Matt Jolley, 18, petitioned school officials to reverse that decision. On Tuesday, January 29, Washakie County School District No. 1 superintendent David Nicholas issued a press statement announcing that, after review, administrators decided to allow the photo’s inclusion in the yearbook after all.

In a written statement this morning, Nicholas told WyoFile, “The district has determined that the student request to have a gay pride flag in his/her senior picture will not disrupt school processes and will be allowed.  This decision was made after a review of policy and following consultation with legal counsel.”

He also launched a petition campaign on Change.org, an online petition platform, to try to persuade school officials to change their stance on the matter. Jolley met with Worland High School officials on Monday to discuss the matter.

Jolley said he came out on Facebook late last summer, even though he’d believed that most people already knew he was gay. “I was surprised most people didn’t know.” Jolley said he loves photography and plans to attend The Art Institute of Colorado beginning this summer.

— Dustin Bleizeffer is WyoFile editor-in-chief. You can reach him at dustin@wyofile.com, (307) 577-6069. Follow Dustin on Twitter, @DBleizeffer

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Dustin Bleizeffer

Dustin Bleizeffer is a Report for America Corps member covering energy and climate at WyoFile. He has worked as a coal miner, an oilfield mechanic, and for 22 years as a statewide reporter and editor primarily...

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3 Comments

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  1. I am so proud of Mr. Jolley. I live in Basin. In 2006 my daughter got in school suspension for refusing to take off a pro-gay T-shirt in Manderson Middle School. You are not alone. Your actions are a big part of the struggle and how equal rights are gained.

  2. “‘This decision was made after…following consultation with legal counsel.’”

    Smart attorney(s).

  3. Worland High School officials we are proud of your decesion to allow this students picture with the gay pride flag. This decesion helps speak against intolerance; something many, particularly politicians in and from Wyoming, my home state, need to work on. As a prominent Repbulican Colin Powell stated “The Republican party has a dark vein of intolerance running through it.” Unless it is done away with it will continue to cost them national elections, allthough unfortunalty perhaps not state elections.