ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A high school honors student has been fired from his position as student body president for supporting a student council resolution in January that supported LGBT students, according to his attorney James Radford.
Reuben Lack, 18, a senior at Alpharetta High School in Fulton County, Ga., had introduced a motion during a student council meeting January 12 that would have modified the school’s annual prom tradition in an effort to make the positions of prom king and queen more gender neutral to accommodate the high school’s LGBTQ students.
In an interview with WXIA-TV, Lack said he tabled the motion after the faculty advisers became agitated and angry at the suggestion, but revisited the motion during a January 26 student council meeting.
Lack’s attorney said his client was removed as student body president on February 8, the reason given was that Lack had verbally criticized Alpharetta High School principal Shannon Kersey over issues dealing with the debate team that Lack captained, and other reasons, “all of which were knowingly false,” according to a lawsuit filed on Lack’s behalf.
Lack, his family and attorney met with Kersey, and according to the complaint, Kersey refused to reinstate him as student body president.
“The evidence will show that Reuben was punished for exercising his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” Radford said.
Kersey refused to comment due to the pending lawsuit, and a spokesman at the school district’s superintendent’s office said that the district would also not comment, referring the matter to its attorney.
Lack, a member of the school’s debate team, was also removed from his position on the school’s Local School Advisory Committee (LSAC). He is a member of the Fulton Youth Advisory Council and attends meetings of the Fulton County Commission as a student ambassador.
According to Raford, as the U.S.Supreme Court famously held in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, “First Amendment rights … are available to teachers and students.”
“It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate. This has been the unmistakable holding of this Court for almost 50 years.”
Radford said the evidence will show that Lack was punished for exercising his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and “we have filed a federal lawsuit to declare his removal unconstitutional.”
“We have filed a motion for injunction, seeking to reinstate Reuben,” he added.