A Texas high school student has made a stand after officials pulled a photo of her and her girlfriend from its yearbook.
The photo of 16-year-olds Felicia Rivera and Lialani Hernandez was originally going to be included in Brennan High School’s yearbook Valentine’s-themed page, alongside some of the school’s heterosexual couples.
The students say that because Ms Rivera’s face is hidden by her hair her gender is ambiguous, and that the photo was only pulled after it was made clear to staff that it was a picture of two girls.
Ms Rivera claims that a teacher told her the photo would not be published because it showed a lesbian couple.
“The teacher was perfectly fine with the picture until she found out it was two girls. It’s not right,” she said.
The school’s principal denies that the photo was pulled because it shows a lesbian couple. They claim that because Ms Rivera is embracing Ms Hernandez in the photo, it is too graphic a public display of affection (PDA) for the yearbook.
This argument was backed up by Pascual Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the Northside School District.
“It’s just an intimate picture; there’s no eye contact. They’re both looking down. It looks like a pretty intimate moment,” said Mr Gonzalez.
Ms Rivera denied that this was the case, citing other images of heterosexual couples that remained in the yearbook.
“I saw the page, and there are other PDA images that didn’t get pulled,” she said. “There was a guy’s arm around a girl’s shoulder. Other people were holding hands.”
She has started a petition to get the photo reinstated, which has gathered 300 signatures, but says she is more concerned about the reasoning behind pulling the photo in the first place.
“I could really care less now if the photo is in there,” she said. “It’s just the reason they pulled it that upsets me.”
Ms Rivera’s father Felix Rivera said he was proud of his daughter’s handling of the situation.My daughter has never had a problem,” he told The News. “She’s a real strong person.”
Mr Rivera contacted the school to ask if they would include a photo of his daughter and Ms Hernandez looking at the camera, but has not received a response.