By Anna Peirano
A year ago, Reuben Lack was elected to be the student body president of his high school in Alpharetta, Georgia. A month ago, he was removed from the position by school officials for proposing a more gender neutral Prom tradition.
His idea was to change the structure of senior prom, eliminating the names of Prom King and Queen in favor of more gender-neutral titles. The intention was to create a more inclusive environment for LGBT students. However, the council never had the chance to debate the issue.
“The teacher moderators were visibly agitated,” when he proposed the idea, Lack said. “They were very, very uncomfortable about it. To the point where they were almost angry.” He was removed from his position just a few days later.
Lack is now suing the Fulton County School system, Alpharetta High principal, and faculty advisors in federal court. The suit calls for Lack’s reinstatement as president and damages.
“The issue is entirely about First Amendment rights,” says James Radford, Jr., Lack’s attorney in the case. “All of us can have our disagreements about the issue of gay rights, gay marriage. This case is about the right of a young man who’s a student at a public high school to speak his mind and to advocate for causes that are important for him.”
The school claims that Lack’s idea is not the reason for his removal from office. Instead, they trumped up a list of charges against the student, saying he displayed an “inadequate performance as a student body president,” according to school system spokeswoman Samantha Evans.
She claims Lack violated the council’s by-laws. However, she was unable to come up with specifics when asked, and was unable to provide an adequate answer as to why the action was taken ten month’s after Lack’s election.
Lack is a model student, with a 3.7 GPA and president of the school’s debate team. He say’s he doesn’t regret the choices he made or what has happened.