Wade Gelinas is a hunter. Check out the high-schooler’s Facebook page, and you’ll find a photo of him proudly posing with the turkey he blasted on opening day earlier this year.
There’s another photo there, too, a senior picture of the Standish, Maine, student holding his gun.
He wanted to use it in the Bonny Eagle High School yearbook, he wrote in a recent post.
But the school shot him down. And he got angry.
“So you’re telling me that a football player can have theirs with a football, a lacrosse player can have theirs with their stick, and a guy or girl can dress up like one or the other but a hunter can’t have theirs with their gun!” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“Like, Comment, or Share if you agree that this is an infringement of my rights.”
Boy did people comment after the story hit national media. Sides were quickly chosen.
“Welcome to Liberal America where a boy can pretend to be a girl and be counted as a hero for being the prom queen but don’t you dare support a hobby that you enjoy because they might find a defensive,” commented one man on Facebook.
“School pics are meant to be pics of people. Not pics of people and their favorite things, JUST people. Get it?” commented another man on a local TV station’s website.
A photographer who shoots senior portraits wasn’t surprised that the school turned down the photo.
“This isn’t news because it happens thousands of times a year ... students try to use swords, bongs, and extreme political symbols every day, and get turned down,” he wrote on a TV station’s website.
“It’s not odd to have a rule against weapons, it’s just odd for a student to think it’s odd ... I’ve photographed thousands of high school students over the last 20 years, even schools without clear rules against weapons, will say “no” if you turn in a picture with a gun. Thank goodness.”
The high school’s principal, Lori Napolitano, told The Portland Press Herald that students can’t bring weapons to school or wear clothing with images of guns or other weapons.
She said those policies extend to yearbook photos. The yearbook is produced by a class taught at the school, making it subject to rules governing school curriculum, she said.
She told the newspaper she spoke with Gelinas and understands why he’s upset. But the photo put the school in the position of deciding which images promote violence and which don’t, she said.
“It creates a disruption, and it doesn’t make everybody feel safe,” Napolitano said.
Even the photographer who took the picture didn’t think it would make it into the yearbook.
Kelly Roy told WCSH she’s photographed students with bows and arrows, sports equipment, musical instruments, even their cars.
“I figured there’d be no way they’d let him put it in the yearbook,” said Roy.
Gelinas had hoped his Facebook post would change the school’s decision, but it didn’t. He’s gotten a lot of attaboys, though.
“Almost every person that I am friendly with, they’ve all come up to me and said they are on my side and think it’s OK,” he told WCSH.