Exclusive: Gay couple denied shot at becoming prom kings say their school has ‘failed’ them
Two gay students have been stopped from running for prom king and king at their school.
Joel Lerner and Carter Hebert, who are both 18, were elected to the royal court at Chattahoochee High School in Atlanta, Georgia.
But the school told them that its procedures prevent them from running to be crowned king and king.
This is despite a straight couple who were also elected to the royal court being completely able to run for prom king and queen.
Carter told PinkNews: “We were both on the list of three guy nominees and figured people nominated us as a couple, considering another heterosexual couple was nominated as well.
“So, we decided we should email our administration to see if there was any way we could change the voting just to give us the chance to win.
“We by no means think we are going to win, but we just wanted to be given the opportunity. The administration emailed us back and said they wouldn’t change the voting.
“So we went in to talk to them in person to explain everything from our point of view in hopes of persuading them.”
The school refused.
He said that by doing so, the authorities had “failed to give us the equal opportunity” that they deserved.
Carter responded by starting a petition condemning the school for “refusing to allow equal representation of people of all genders and sexualities at Prom,” and calling on its leadership to change the rules.
More than 800 people have now signed the petition, which asks for the name of the titles to be changed “from Prom King and Queen to Prom Royalty.”
“In this case,” Carter explained, “it would allow for two people, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, to win.
“This not only allows the chance for a homosexual couple to possibly win, but it also ensures that the most deserving people win.”
If Carter and Joel succeed, it would represent a shift in the Georgia district’s approach, particularly as Donna Lowry, chief communications officer for Fulton County Schools, told PinkNews: “The district has no policy on LBGT issues.”
Carter told PinkNews that the couple was “surprised” that the school was reticent to change its rules straight away, considering that it had been “absolutely accepting of people of all sexualities, races, genders, etc.”
He added that “what we figured was that their decision wasn’t out of mal-intent but rather because of tradition.
“But we want to show them that times are changing and we don’t have to always follow tradition.”
Carter and Joel are trying to convince Chattahoochee and the Fulton County Schools district to change its policy, at least so future students won’t have to deal with the same unfair situation.
“I think it can just give them that absolute sense of equality anybody in the LGBT community hopes for,” Carter said.
He added: “I just don’t want any LGBT student to feel even a moment of inequality.
“And what we are also hoping for is that this doesn’t just change for our school, but for all schools. So no LGBT student – closeted or out – has to feel this way!”
In a statement, a Fulton County Schools spokesperson said: “The Chattahoochee High School administration has met with students requesting to change the process for selecting prom king and queen.
“The students were told that because nominations have been made and the process is underway, the school administration is not in a position to make changes at this time.
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“If they would like to change the process moving forward, student leaders are encouraged to present a proposal to the school’s administration and governance board.”
And that’s exactly what Carter and Joel are doing.
Prom can bring up difficulties for many, as several students have found out over just the last year.
A 17-year-old in Florida was banned from bringing her girlfriend to prom last year.
And in February, a student in Alabama was suspended after asking her girlfriend to prom.
A transgender student who became his school’s prom king refused to attend his graduation because authorities wanted to use his deadname.