As Atlanta news affiliate Fox 5 reports, the Johns Creek, Ga., school is being accused of discriminating against two gay students by ruling them ineligible to be this year’s prom king and king.
Though the couple, Joel Lerner and Carter Hebert, were both named to the royal court, the school insists that protocol prevents them from taking the highest honor — a decision Lerner has called “heartbreaking.”
“I was really happy at first — wow, we have the opportunity to be this year’s high school king and king,” the high school band conductor told the station.
Lerner and Hebert noted that the court also includes a heterosexual couple eligible to be prom king and queen.
According to a Change.org petition, which currently has nearly 500 signatures, Lerner and Hebert aren’t fighting just for their right to be prom kings but for a gender-neutral royal court.
“We proposed the idea of simply switching the name from prom king and queen to prom royalty,” the petition states. “In this case, 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. This means that if the most deserving of the nominees are two girls, they would both be allowed to win, instead of historically only allowing one to be crowned royalty.”
School officials told Fox 5 that while they are open to considering this policy change for future proms, their hands are tied for this year’s event as the voting process has already begun.
“The Chattahoochee High School administration has met with students requesting to change the process for selecting prom king and queen,” Fulton County Schools said. “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. 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.”
Hebert and Lerner intend to do just that. In addition to pursuing their petition, the two plan to work with school officials over the summer on making their requested policy changes.
“What we’ve had to go through, we don’t want anyone else to feel the same way,” Hebert said.
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