(Exclusive - Must credit Ryan Davis/Notgeniuses.com)
What would you do if you were a closeted eighteen-year old senior in high school and your principal told your parents that you were gay? That recently happened to James Barnett, who was a senior at Trinity Christian Academy in Dallas, Texas.
It all started, when a young gay personal site decided to start charging for their service. He knew this would hurt the anonymity usually provided. "You have me and 50,000 other gay teens out there, who don't want their parents to know anything is up and a credit card statement saying XY.com Magazine would be a little obvious." He knew this would make people less likely to use the site. "When they released this greed campaign I said this isn't right, kids who struggle with this and need some kind of help won't pay money."
Being able to talk to other gay teens on-line had provided James with support when he was questioning. "The site to me meant a great deal, as it had probably saved my life; it gave me people who were going through the same thing and we could talk. I could finally come out of my shell. So I created a free service that would give teens an outlet; stray away from drugs, suicide, alcoholism, etc."
So with the best of intentions James, a talented web programmer, started My-Boi.com. It went off well, and three months later he had over fifteen-hundred members. "I have personally received countless e-mails from teenagers who are experiencing what I was nine months ago, and say that this site helped!" Three months later, things changed.
A snoopy kid at school told several heads in the administration that James was gay and ran a gay-themed website. He was called into the office and grilled about the site and his sexual orientation. After the discussion James asked the principle repeatedly not to inform his parents. "I again emphasized and I explicitly said, 'I am 18, I reserve the right for my parents not to know and I do not want them involved.'"
What happens next?
"The first people I see to walk in the door are my mother and my father. This is where I bury my head in my hands and don't really know what to do, how to respond - I for the first time in my life have never felt that betrayed and first time I've ever been speechless." The principle took it upon himself to out his student. "They tell my parents "I am struggling with homosexuality." My mother broke down in tears, my dad wasn't particularly thrilled..."
If this wasn't enough they took six days to decide to expel James from school, citing 'immoral behavior and supporting an immoral cause.' "The reason for expulsion and the suspension is the fact that what I have done/am is a Class A offense. I am not given a chance to appeal to honor council, it's "too sensitive";"
Before the expulsion the school made James pull his site. They suggested if he complied they might allow him back. They didn't and he was able to get it put up on a private server, which is costing him $200 a month. He thinks its worth it. "My site meant a great deal to me to keep up, since sites like it saved my life. I felt like it was stripped away from me and from a group of people who might not have been able to find a friend in a hard time."
James attended Trinity Christian Academy for thirteen years, his family paying around $130,000 in total tuition. All he wanted was a degree from the school he's been so fond of. It's ashame that they won't give him that.
As of last Monday, James has contacted the ACLU and is waiting for a response.
Update: 12/14 10:45 AM -
To clear up some confusion: The site was not stored on the school's server. James has a server at home and runs a successful web design company. The site was pulled so it wouldn't be “under his parent's roof.” I assume he makes enough money to cover the $200 a month bill from his design work.
James is currently attending a local public high school for the remainder of the year.
He is currently living with his parents, and things seem to ok.
Update: 12/14 - 1:50 PM
Also, Destiny6 suggested we contact the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram at email@example.com.
Other Dallas Media:
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