A Minneapolis school district tried to prevent two female students from walking hand in hand in a pep rally's royalty court — but then they changed their minds. Result: cheers and standing ovations for the pair.
According to the AP, when Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton, who are gay, were elected to the royalty court at Champlin Park High School, officials made some changes. They decided that instead of walking in pairs at the upcoming pep rally, students would walk by themselves or with a parent or teacher. But human rights groups sued for the girls' right to walk together — and the school agreed. Lindstrom and Shelton walked in the ceremony and got enthusiastic applause from their peers. Says Shelton, "It felt amazing."
This bit of good news is a big deal not just for Lindstrom and Shelton, but for the Anoka-Hennepin School District, of which Champlin Park is a part. Last year, Anoka-Hennepin student Justin Aaberg committed suicide after being bullied for his sexual orientation, and some residents say previous suicides in the district were the result of homophobic bullying as well. The district also has a policy of remaining "neutral" on issues of sexual orientation, despite a request from Aaberg's mom that they instruct teachers and officials on how to support LGBT students. According to the AP, the district conceived its policy "as a way to balance the demands of liberal and conservative families, but neither side has been completely happy with it." Maybe now that school officials see their own students supporting their gay peers, they'll recognize that failing to protect the rights of LGBT students isn't really "neutral."