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School pulls gay grad as commencement speaker

Posted at 9:50 AM, Apr 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-29 09:52:19-04

MT. PLEASANT, Michigan (CNN) - A man invited to speak at his younger brother's high school graduation says his sexuality got him kicked off the program.

And his rescinded invitation is sparking an online movement.

"My commencement speech had nothing to do with my sexuality. My main points were my motto, 'Dream, Believe, Become.' And also about facing your fear and putting faith over fear," said Dominic Sheahan Stahl.

The Sacred Heart Academy graduate, who now lives in New York, says the school will not let him speak.

"The principal unfortunately had to come over to speak to my mom and to tell her I could no longer speak at my brother's graduation because I am gay.... I was hurt, I was upset," he said.

The decision sparked national criticism on social media networks like Facebook and Youtube.

Bishop Joseph Cistone of the Diocese of Saginaw released a statement saying he was not aware of the issue and said “I am distressed by the way in which Sacred Heart Academy school leadership has handled this situation, and have expressed this to the school's pastor. The Catholic church is very clear in her teaching, that men and women who have homosexual tendencies must be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity.”

At an assembly, the school's lead administrator, Denny Starnes, would not talk to the media, but admitted he did not handle the situation properly.

Stahl and his family say they are thankful for the support that they have received.

"We are making a stand and we are making a difference so this actually happening, I would not change in my entire life," said Stahl.

Additionally, Stahl still plans to attend his brother's graduation and plans to speak at Central Michigan University.