School Keeps Gay Teens From Graduating (Updated)

Students at an Oklahoma high school say administrators have discouraged them from graduating — and even kicked them out — because of their sexual orientation.

Kelsey Hicks tells the Advocate that she dropped out of Del City High School but then wanted to return so she could realize her dream of becoming a firefighter, which requires a high school diploma. But the principal discouraged her from coming back, saying things like, "Well, you're gay. You're not going to do anything with your life. You might as well just drop out now." The same principal actually kicked out Hicks's girlfriend, eighteen-year-old Melissa McKenzie, for moving in with Hicks, and said she could come back to school if she moved back in with her family.

It's not clear from the Advocate coverage what McKenzie's family situation is, but given the attitude of some adults in Del City to her sexual orientation, it's possible that home isn't a safe place for her. Whatever the case, it's the responsibility of schools to help all students succeed, not to undermine those whose "lifestyle" it doesn't agree with. The school district that includes Del City issued a statement saying, "It is the policy of the Mid-Del Public School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs, services, and activities" — tellingly, the statement doesn't mention sexual orientation. People elsewhere are supporting Hicks and McKenzie — Change.org's petition to let the girls return to school is here. Luckily, not everyone believes that gay students are less deserving of education than others — but it's pretty disgusting that even one high school does.

Update: There seems to be a fair amount of debate about whether the girls' story is accurate. The Daily Kos talked to "a local independent investigative reporter — who is gay," who has this to say about the case:

There's a lot more to this story than what some of the gay sites are putting out. Many LGBT students there have stepped forward in defense of the school and principal involved. The two girls had a long history of troublemaking and bullying. And lying. [...] I don't know what really happened between these parties and such. I do know that the one girl moved out of her district to move in with her girlfriend. That was the basis in the school telling her if she'd move back with her mother she could attend. The only thing it had to do with her living arrangement was that she was no longer in the district.

The journalist doesn't provide specific evidence of the girls' supposed lying and bullying, nor have Hicks or McKenzie responded publicly to this version of events (though Hicks talked to the Advocate again yesterday), so the case remains somewhat murky. Del City has promised a fuller statement to the Daily Kos — it's apparently coming soon.

Lesbians Stopped From Graduating [Advocate]
Is Oklahoma's Del City High School Trying To Prevent Gay Students From Graduating? [Change.org]