'I felt like crying': Anti-gay commencement speech at Ohio high school sparks outrage

·3 min read
Jim McGuire is an alumnus of River Valley High School in Marion County, Ohio. He sparked public outcry when he encouraged graduates to pursue relationships between a man and a woman in his speech at the district's graduation as the alumni speaker Friday.
Jim McGuire is an alumnus of River Valley High School in Marion County, Ohio. He sparked public outcry when he encouraged graduates to pursue relationships between a man and a woman in his speech at the district's graduation as the alumni speaker Friday.

MARION, Ohio — Public outrage ensued following a Friday graduation ceremony in Ohio where an alumni speaker condemned homosexual relationships in his commencement speech.

Jim McGuire encouraged the graduates of River Valley High School to pursue the "Biblical principles" of only romantic relationships between a man and a woman.

After opening his speech by encouraging the graduates of the public school in Ohio's Marion County to spend time "learning God's word," McGuire made the following comment about relationships:

"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," he said.

Although River Valley High School has made the video of the graduation ceremony private, the district made public a full transcript of the speech along with an official statement the administration originally sent as and email to graduating seniors and their parents Saturday.

In Florida: 'Curly hair' becomes code for gay in Florida high school grad speech after senior says he was censored 

In the statement, the district clarifies that McGuire was speaking on his own accord and not on behalf of the district. It also notes that the speech was not pre-approved by the administration.

"He was not speaking as an official representative of River Valley Local Schools," the statement said. The district's board and administrative team "will be reviewing our processes for future ceremonies. Above all else, we want to ensure our students, families, and guests receive a high-quality program focusing on the accomplishments of our graduating class."

'A dream': She started college in 1955. Decades later, she fulfilled her dream of graduating at age 84 

How community responded to speech

Across social media and conversation, the Marion community has been responding to the speech with public outcry.

Alexis Osipow is a 2018 River Valley graduate who was at the ceremony to support her younger sister who was graduating.

"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," Osipow said.

"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."

What's everyone talking about? Sign up for our trending newsletter today 

Osipow has been speaking out about the disrespect she saw in McGuire's speech and made a Facebook post Saturday addressing the River Valley graduates, expressing her sadness for the way the special moment was overshadowed and asking the district to respond to the incident.

Other outraged members of the community have also posted about their intentions to attend and speak out at the district's next board meeting on Monday.

McGuire did not respond to comment despite multiple attempts to contact him.

This article originally appeared on Marion Star: Anti-gay commencement speech at Ohio high school sparks public outrage