Students from Marion County, Ohio, are demanding an apology from their high school for a commencement speaker who spoke about how the audience should only be in heterosexual relationships.
Around 105 students graduated on Friday at the Marion Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum. Based on the 2021 information provided by the Ohio Department of Education, River Valley High School has approximately 510 pupils.
Cassidy Osipow was one of those individuals.
“I didn’t actually have, like, many friends,” Osipow stated.
She mentioned that she didn’t belong with her peers. Coming from a non-agricultural background and having no interest in hunting or fishing, she felt out of place.
She remarked, toying with her orange, white, and pink wristband, “I couldn’t truly express my authentic self in the presence of my peers at school as I was apprehensive about their acceptance towards my true identity.”
The educational institution is situated in Caledonia, Ohio. It’s a countryside hamlet within Marion County.
She added, “I always felt like I had a small circle of people that I went to school with because I really wasn’t like a lot of people.” “I guess they’re more like a ‘country’,” she said.
Regrettably, her graduation day offered no respite. She had eagerly anticipated the moment of graduating and departing from the educational institution where she always felt like an outsider.
She expressed, “I did not anticipate that to be something that I would hear during my graduation. It was meant to be the day that I was ultimately liberated from all the things that I had encountered in high school.”
Jim McGuire was named the “esteemed alumni speaker” who expresses his “deep devotion to serving God and our nation.”
Tony Fisher, Osipow’s stepfather, expressed, “I had anticipated an uplifting address for the graduation ceremony. However, I noticed that it was slightly unsettling for the spectators and it seemed to adopt a somewhat archaic biblical perspective.”
Fisher, was a little perplexed and so was Osipow — but then they heard his subsequent declaration.
McGuire suggested, “Select a life partner.” “I highly recommend choosing a man and a woman, and a woman with a man,” to ensure that biblical teachings are followed.
The video of the businessman preaching to public school students was sent to local Valley River schools as an online resource, but it is no longer available. The next day, Trau Morgan 5’s News received a tip from another concerned parent about comments made by McGuire.
Osipow exclaimed, “After he finished, individuals began to applaud him.” “And I thought to myself, ‘Why are all of you applauding for this gentleman?'”
The 18-year-old graduate is a lesbian and uses she/they pronouns. She told News 5 that using she for the article is good.
She was in attendance for the six and a half minutes of McGuire’s speech, but she wasn’t completely engaged.
“This can’t actually be real,” she added. “I didn’t actually know that he is real. I thought I imagined him saying that.”
Not only was the speech inappropriate, Fisher said, but the applause was as well. His thoughts immediately turned to Osipow.
He said, “The opinion he expressed was that there was truth spoken. She had the courage to know that there was truth spoken. She had the courage to know that.”
Fisher, who finished his schooling at River Valley High School, claimed that this is not the behavior anticipated from individuals who uphold religious convictions.
“Many individuals believe that they actually need to impose principles among people,” he added.
The event advanced smoothly, disturbing both the father and daughter.
“According to Osipow, the school permitted him to remain in the premises and greet individuals by clasping their hands following their graduation. He mentioned that no remarks were made to him and he was not approached regarding any matter.”
She refused to shake his hand.
She added, “Anyway, I shouldn’t have been able to be in the room after he walked by me, but he said, ‘Oh, good job,’ and held his hand out to shake mine.” “I didn’t feel comfortable shaking this man’s hand.”
Fisher attempted to approach McGuire following the ceremony.
He expressed, “I desired to convey to him that by means of my Catholic beliefs, that the Almighty adores all of us. I longed for him to perceive that — I failed to intercept him before he took shelter behind the drapes.”
Osipow faced intrusive inquiries and derogatory remarks while striving to complete her education, as her supposed friends exposed her identity when she was in her third year of school. Such comments, Osipow has endured for two years amidst the persistent bullying from her peers.
She stated, “I have certainly experienced some variation in how people treat me ever since they became aware of my true identity.” “I attend school at River Valley,” she remarked, “so I suppose that’s what I should anticipate.”
The response from the school was what surprised her the most.
“I think we were all expecting an apology in that email and they just tried brushing it under the rug,” she said.
Fisher expressed his dissatisfaction.
He expressed his astonishment at the school’s slow response in addressing the incident, deeming it uncalled for and inappropriate. He was aware that his two daughters were also taken aback, and he felt ashamed that the school board allowed that gentleman to be present in front of his daughters and numerous other individuals on that particular day.
Adam Wickham, the Superintendent, called a team to note that he would be sending their statement over email. The story aired on June 5th, and it reached the school multiple days before.
The school that received Wickham’s message noted that they would not be making any additional statements at this moment. It was stated in an email sent by 5 News that the included statement was what had been sent.
The speech, which was not reviewed by anyone on the Administrative RV Board or team, expressed the views of the speaker during the commencement of his reflection. “The statement,” said in part, was the expression.
McGuire also reached out to 5 News to respond to the comment. The full statement, including an apology, is nowhere to be found in the statement or email.
The casual response to the speech made Osipow contemplate the culture of homophobia at the school.
The graduate expressed, “I felt a bit uncertain about that kind of situation, sorry they said, it’s like they never even experienced the things we did at graduation.”
She is not the only one who wants an apology. Dozens of online users and numerous others were told by 5 News. 5 News said that the school is not taking responsibility and it is embarrassing.
News 5 reported that the valedictorian speech was shared with some graduates and families, as they questioned whether the school had reviewed it before allowing him to deliver it.
Fisher wants individuals to be aware that he supports his stepdaughter.
He said, “I am proud of them for that.” We have left behind the obstacles and are reflecting on the concerns of the next generation. This type of situation may be similar to what their friends are facing, but it’s not just my daughters, it’s also my daughter. I’m just astonished at the strength of this proud parent.
Osipow mentioned that high school was not a pleasant experience for her, so this conclusion was appropriate.
She added, “I definitely remember that now graduation is going to be like a negative thing.” It’s more of a relieving thing for me to be out of school, and I don’t feel like I’m going to miss being in school really.
“That’s likely what I recall the most — is that I ultimately have the opportunity to simply be finished with it.”
Ohioans should be expressing support for the LGBTQ+ community now more than ever, she stated, which includes legislators proposing their own rendition of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. With Ohio contemplating bills to prohibit conversations about sexual orientation, River Valley is no different in this regard.
She said, “I don’t like anything changing to not going, I was. They shouldn’t talk about being gay at school because it’s not good for young kids, it’s going to be terrible and people were arguing.”
It’s absurd to think that I don’t matter, isn’t it? I was older when it didn’t make me go straight — we learned about being straight in school.
Osipow wants an apology from the kids, as she believes that they should take some responsibility for settling in school or sending a message just by being able to.
It’s always important to learn to love yourself because there’s nothing wrong with that. People are always going to say negative things, but it doesn’t mean you have to change who you are. You should never be ashamed of who you are, because you are amazing.