Michael Barth delivers speech after NSAA reverses decision, will air April 20

By: Lauren Fabrizi

A day after the Nebraska Schools Activities Association reversed its decision so that Michael Barth could deliver his first place speech on gender identity on television, he did just that.

“This is something I'm passionate about,” Barth said. “The message needs to be out there, I wouldn't back down from it. I'd feel like I'm betraying a lot of people and myself.”

“I said, 'I support you 100 percent,'” Barth's speech coach, Sandi Muirhead, said. “Our principal, superintendent, everyone said, 'I support you 100 percent.'”

The speech is an interpretation of three poems, including a selection from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' “Same Love.”

Barth said he was told by the NSAA's executive director that he couldn't have any transgender or sexuality connotations in his speech. But he said it's not about that; it's about love and acceptance of who one is.

Rhonda Blanford-Green, the NSAA exec. dir., said after her decision to make Barth change his speech, her office was flooded with an overwhelming amount of support for him to deliver it as is.

“When you start thinking you're protecting someone from something, when actually people out there are saying, 'let's hear it, that voice needs to be heard,' it starts to make you think,” Blanford-Green said.

That's when she said she knew she had to reverse her decision.

Thursday, Barth recited his speech along with other state winners for NET's Best of the Best program.

“It's awesome that whole community of people came to support this message, and they wanted me to speak what I was meant to speak,” Barth said. “I didn't know what to think, how to feel about it. I'm just thankful for it.”

The Best of the Best segment will air on NET on April 20.