Their story has played out like the name of a popular lesbian movie: The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love. It started last month, when the girls--longtime high school sweethearts--were voted "cutest couple" by their fellow seniors at Crete-Monee High School in the suburbs south of Chicago. Administrators balked at first. Then several students walked out of class to support the girls. In the end, the girls' parents--though a bit shell-shocked--agreed to let a photograph of the couple appear in the school yearbook. And last week district superintendent Roberta Berry wrote a letter praising the students at Crete-Monee High. "I am proud to say that while other schools continue to address issues such as alienation, bullying, and hate crimes, we have a student body that not only accepts each others' differences but also celebrates them," Berry wrote.
Some parents and community members, however, have called to complain and written letters to the editor of local newspapers. But others are supportive--a sign, students say, that times are changing. "This isn't 1952 anymore. I think people need to realize there are different people everywhere," said Rachel Urban, a 17-year-old Crete-Monee senior. "If 15- and 17-year-olds are mature enough to handle this, the rest of the country can."
Crete-Monee officials have chosen not to reveal the names of the "cutest couple" girls, whose parents didn't know they were dating until the vote. "The girls are understandably overwhelmed, and so are their families," school district spokeswoman Sue Rossi said. Choosing senior "bests" is a long-standing tradition for Crete-Monee seniors. Each year they cast their votes for everyone from the "most likely to succeed" to "most likely to shock us at our reunion." While there were three or four senior couples who'd been together through most of their high school years, most students voted for the girls.
Classmates say it was done with sincerity. They say the girls--popular students who are active in sports and other extracurricular activities--can often be seen holding hands in the school's hallways. "I think people voted for them because they're so open about their relationship--and how good it is," said Danielle Cheatom, a 17-year-old senior. "They're actually in love and care about each other." Adds Nick Renfroe, another 17-year-old senior: "They really are the cutest couple."