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14-year-old gay student defends suspended teacher (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Days after Xtra.ca posted the story of Graeme Taylor’s public plea of support for a suspended teacher the clip featuring the gay Michigan teen began appearing on a number of other sites (including Gawker, Towleroad and many others) and the video soon went viral. Yet while Taylor has become something of an internet celebrity for his bravery and eloquence, the popularlity of the video has also highlighted the relative small number of gay-identified youth in media (other than on Glee of course).

This week Ellen had Taylor on her show to discuss his speech and his own coming out at 13:


The It Gets Better campaign has produced countless videos addressed to gay youths. Now, from Michigan, a welcome twist: a young gay teen speaking up in support of an adult teacher .


(Skip to 0:17)


The teacher, Jay McDowell, was suspended after removing two students for making anti-gay comments in his classroom. One of the students came to class sporting a Confederate flag belt buckle; the teacher asked the student to remove it. This prompted the students to ask the teacher about the meaning of his purple anti-gay bullying T-shirt. After a discussion with the students, McDowell suspended them for the rest of the class.

The school board responded by suspending McDowell because the district deemed that he had deviated from the approved curriculum, made a snap suspension judgment and violated one student’s First Amendment rights.

14-year-old Graeme Taylor made his impassioned plea for the teacher at a heated school board meeting, where dozens of people appeared to show their support for the teacher.
A Facebook page has also been created to rally support for McDowell.

The TV news report below also features Taylor (0:16):