( Anniston, AL, February 8, 2018 ) Lambda Legal sent a letter to eastern Alabama's Calhoun County School District today warning school officials not to prevent a lesbian couple from attending the prom amid reports that one of the Alexandria High School juniors had been disciplined for "promposing" to her girlfriend during a school talent show.
"Janizia and Raven have been a couple since September, 2017. Most of their classmates and many teachers knew about it, and there had been no issue," said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney and Students' Rights Strategist Paul D. Castillo. "In fact, when Janizia. made her 'promposal' to Raven at the school talent show, where Raven was performing, the students cheered."
"The next day, however, the principal invoked 'Christian values' and disciplined Janizia, even though a marriage proposal made by a straight couple at a talent show in a previous year had resulted in no disciplinary action," Castillo said. "It seems the only problem the principal has with Janizia and Raven, an out lesbian couple with no disciplinary record, is that they are a lesbian couple. That's discrimination, pure and simple."
Lambda Legal sent a letter today to Calhoun County School District Superintendent Joe Dyar and Alexandria High School Principal Mack Holley underscoring the school district's legal responsibility, according to the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, to respect the sexual orientation of all its students and not to discriminate against students on the basis of their sex. The letter also asks that the District issue a written apology to Janizia and Raven and expunge any disciplinary history related to the "promposal" from the students' school records.
As explained in the letter delivered today:
'The Principal's religious-based remarks and proselytizing over the school's public address system the day after the Promposal, his subsequent discipline of J.R., and the alleged threat to punish R.G. for her expression of same-sex affection through her performance violate clearly established federal law. His actions to sanction, embarrass, and make an example out of the Students based on their sex and sexual orientation are evidence of animus toward lesbian, gay and bisexual students and violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"Across the country, schools and school districts have adopted respectful nondiscriminatory policies for their LGBT students, and instead of turmoil, administrators, teachers, and coaches have witnessed thriving and active and engaged students. We welcome the opportunity to speak with the principal and the school district about the law and rights of LGBT students," Castillo added.
Read the letter: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/al_20180208_letter-to-calhoun-county-school-district .
To Know Your Rights at Prom: www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/article/youth-dances .
Senior Attorney and Students' Rights Strategist Paul D. Castillo and Counsel Tara Borelli are handling the matter for Lambda Legal, joined by pro-bono co-counsel David Gespass of Gespass & Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama.