A lesbian couple in northern California contends their high school adminstration is discriminating against them because of their sexual orientation — by refusing to change a school policy that only allows students to nominate individuals to prom court, rather than couples, according to The Record Searchlight.
Students at Foothill High School in Palo Cedro, Calif., support the couple's efforts to change the existing policy so that the student body could vote for the same-sex couple, the Searchlight reports. The current policy only allows students to nominate a boy and a girl for the traditional roles of prom king and queen, respectively.
The policy effectively prohibits students from electing a same-sex couple as prom royalty, argues Hayley Lack, one of the lesbians nominated for prom queen. That's why the 16-year-old senior started a petition (along with her girlfriend) to have the school change its voting system. The couple has already secured 100 signatures from fellow students enrolled at the public high school in Shasta County, Calif.
"We'd rather just fight the battle for it and win so that future kids that are LGBT won't have to deal with it," Lack told the Searchlight. "A queen and a queen can still rule perfectly fine."
But school adminstrators appear unconvinced by the students' plea. Foothill principal Jim Bartow stood by the school's existing policy, saying it is "completely about gender equality."
"We are providing equal access on both sides of the prom court," Bartow told the Searchlight. He also pointed to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, a federal policy that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools that recieve public funding.
"We have never nominated couples," Bartow said in an email to the Searchlight. "Many times a 'couple' will get chosen as king and queen if the boy gets the most votes and his girlfriend does as well. It does not often happen that way."
"Their argument doesn't make sense to me," said Lack. "We don't need a female on the football team or a male cheerleader to be fair — why do we need a guy when the couple nominated is a female couple?"
Kelly Lack, Hayley's mother, supports her daughter's bid for prom queen, and wants the school to revise its requirements around opposite-sex prom pairings. "A lot of discrimination has happened because of the word 'tradition,' in my opinion, in our history," Lack told the Searchlight.
This isn't the first time students at Foothill have tried to elect a prom queen and queen. Junior Alex Seagrave, 16, said she and her ex-girlfriend were nominated last year.
When votes were counted, Seagrave was placed with a boy who ranked lower than her, rather than with her then-girlfriend, who finished just one spot below Seagrave.
"It was stupid, because we were a couple," Seagrave told the Searchlight. "I can see why they would want [gender equality], but it's what we want; it's a student activity."
Watch a clip of Hayley Lack explaining the situation at her school, below.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the location of Foothill High School as being in Tustin, Calif. The Advocate regrets this error and has corrected the text above.