High school student sues after dispute over gay-friendly prom

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 23, 2012 5:34 PM
High school student sues after dispute over gay-friendly prom

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A high school senior in suburban Atlanta who said he was removed from his student body president post for trying to make prom more inclusive for gay and lesbian students filed a federal lawsuit this week seeking to be reinstated.

Reuben Lack, 18, said Alpharetta High School violated his First Amendment rights by ousting him after he introduced a resolution to change the name of "Prom King and Queen" to "Prom Court" to allow a same-sex couple to be elected.

School officials denied Lack's allegations, arguing he was dismissed because he had not met expectations for the leadership position. Lack's lawyer said the student is not gay.

According to Lack's lawsuit, filed in Atlanta, a faculty adviser at the January 12 student council meeting where he proposed the prom changes "interrupted the debate, and demanded that the topic be dropped."

"She instructed the students to cease discussing the topic, and dictated that the resolution would not be adopted, without any formal vote," the suit said.

Lack was removed as student body president on February 8 for "pushing personal projects" and advocating for "policy changes," the suit filed by Lack said.

He is seeking punitive damages in addition to getting reinstated as student body president.

School officials dispute his version of events. In a letter to Lack's attorney, the school's lawyer said "the student was dismissed because he performed below expectations as student body leader."

The letter states that "any student no matter what their sexual orientation can be elected prom King or Queen by their peers."

The Fulton County School System also denied Lack's accusations in a statement released on Friday.

"We've taken a look at what the individual is alleging and it's just not the case," the statement said. "The district is confident that as the details surface through the legal process they will support that."

Lack's attorney, James Radford, said on Friday that the school system's assertions that his client was ousted because of poor performance are "categorically false and we can prove they're false."

(Editing By Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune)