California's Brawley Union High School denied a Christian student's speech three times because he wanted to express his Christian faith, but the student decided to assert his freedom of expression by openly speaking about his belief at the graduation ceremony.
"In coming before you today, I presented three drafts of my speech, all of them denied on account of my desire to share with you my personal thoughts and inspiration to you: my Christian faith," Brook Hamby, who was his class's salutatorian, said, according to The Blaze.
"In life, you will be told, 'No,'" added Hamby, who has been a mock-trial star, s cross-country runner and U.S. Senate page. "In life you will be told to do things that you have no desire to do. In life, you will be asked to do things that violate your conscience and desire to do what is right."
As the speech caused whispering among the crowd, Hamby responded by saying, "No man or woman has ever truly succeeded or been fulfilled on the account of living for others and not standing on what they knew in their heart was right or good."
He also quoted from the Bible, which he proclaimed is "the biggest best-selling book of all-time in history."
Hamby read out Matthew 5:13, which reads: "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."
Hamby is among the many Christian valedictorians whose speeches have been censored or denied by their schools.
Last June, 18-year-old Roy Costner IV from Liberty High School in Pickens County, South Carolina, chose to rip up his pre-approved speech and instead recited the Lord's Prayer at his graduation ceremony.
He recited the prayer in defiance of the Pickens County School District's change in policy, which banned prayer from school functions after "complaints" from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom From Religion Foundation.
In 2012, another student, Kaitlin Nootbaar, earned the title of valedictorian at her high school in Oklahoma but was reportedly denied her diploma after using the word "hell" in her graduation speech.
"Her quote was, 'When she first started school she wanted to be a nurse, then a veterinarian, and now that she was getting closer to graduation, people would ask her, what do you want to do, and she said, 'How the hell do I know? I've changed my mind so many times,'" Kaitlin's father, David Nootbaar, told Fox News at the time.
In 2011, valedictorian Angela Hildenbrand from Medina Valley High School in Texas was allowed to pray at her graduation ceremony only after a federal appeals court granted an emergency appeal, overturning a U.S. District Court's ruling that banned an official invocation, benediction, or any message that could be considered a prayer at the school district's commencement ceremonies.