- Covington Catholic High School has been in the news since Friday, when a video of students wearing “Make America Great Again” hats confronting a protester at the Indigenous People’s March in Washington, D.C. went viral.
- It’s not the first time the Diocese of Covington has been the news, though.
- Last May, Christian Bales, who is gay, was banned from giving his valedictorian speech hours before Holy Cross High School’s ceremony. He was told the themes “were political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church,” NBC News reported.
- Speaking to NBC News, Bales said that he is ” not surprised at all” by what was depicted in the viral clip and what has happened since.
- “It was only a matter of time that something this school community did would blow up to this degree, and I think they need to be held accountable,” he said.
Covington Catholic High School has been in the news since Friday, when a video of students wearing “Make America Great Again” hats confronting a protester at the Indigenous People’s March in Washington, D.C. went viral.
In the video, high-school junior Nick Sandmann is shown grinning and wearing in a “Make America Great Again” hat while standing inches away from Native American protester Nathan Phillips. Meanwhile, a group of students, also from Covington Catholic, stood around Sandmann, dancing and shouting, seemingly mocking the protesters.
The scene has been the subject of much discussion and debate. But this isn’t the first time the Diocese of Covington has found itself at the center in a controversy.
In May 2018, another Covington school, Holy Cross High School, gained national attention after Christian Bales, valedictorian at the time, was prohibited from giving his graduation speech the morning of the ceremony.
Bales, who is gay, was told by the Diocese of Covington that he could not give his speech because it was not submitted on time and because the content was “political and inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church,” NBC News reported. The student, now-19, denies those claims, per the outlet.
Speaking to NBC News, Bales said he is “not at all surprised” by last week’s video.
“It was only a matter of time that something this school community did would blow up to this degree, and I think they need to be held accountable,” he said.
Bales said that Covington Catholic is “notorious for being a not-well-disciplined school” and called the Diocese of Covington “archaic,” per NBC News.
Bales, now a freshman at the University of Louisville, went on to give his speech outside of the school over a megaphone along with the student body president, who was also abruptly barred from giving her speech at the graduation. Bales told NBC News that they both students were never given “thorough explanations” for the basis on which their speeches were prohibited.
Over the weekend, school and diocese officials issued a statement condemning the group of students’ actions and saying that the incident is under investigation and that students could face expulsion.
In a statement released Tuesday, Phillips said he would be willing to meet with the students as a representative of the Indigenous Peoples March and dismissed Sandmann’s statement as a false depiction of the situation.
“I have read the statement from Nick Sandmann, the student who stared at me for a long time. He did not apologise, and I believe there are intentional falsehoods in his testimony,” Phillips said. “But I have faith that human beings can use a moment like this to find a way to gain understanding from one another.”
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