News (USA)

School district will allow lesbian teens to participate in pep rally together

School district will allow lesbian teens to participate in pep rally together

MINNEAPOLIS — Less than 24 hours after filing a lawsuit against their high school for preventing them from participating as a same-sex couple at an upcoming school assembly, two lesbian teens have been granted permission to walk together in the event processional on Monday.

On Friday, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights filed suit against Champlin Park High School and the Anoka-Hennepin school district on behalf of Desiree (“Dez”) Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom, both 18-year-old seniors.

Earlier this month, Shelton and Lindstrom, were elected to school’s “Snow Days Pep Fest Royalty Court,” but school officials said they would not allow the teens to walk into the event together because they did not want to offend the other students.

Members of the “court” are traditionally paired into male-female couples, but district spokeswoman Mary Olson, said they felt “some students would not be comfortable with the girls walking in as a couple.”

But after a six-hour mediation session on Saturday, the district agreed to allow the teens to participate as a couple in the school’s upcoming “Snow Days” winter event.

“All parties are pleased to announce that we have worked together, collaboratively, to arrive at an arrangement for introductions of elected royalty that is respectful and inclusive of all students,” the SPLC said in a statement.

“Each member of Royalty Court will select a meaningful person in their life to escort him or her in the coronation procession following introductions at this year’s Pep Fest,” the statement read. “This will enable Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton to walk together in the processional.”

The mediation was facilitated by Minnesota Federal District Court Judge Susan R. Nelson, and the plaintiffs have agreed to dismiss the lawsuit.

Chris Stoll, senior staff attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, called the agreement “the right thing” on the part of the school.

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