Out in the Yearbook

LGBT students often face an uphill battle

High school yearbook politics aren’t always pretty. Who’s popular? Who’s the jock? Who’s most likely to succeed? And what about – who’s gay? The latest controversy has more to do with out students facing anti-gay backlash from school administration than what they’re wearing to the senior prom.

At Palmer High School in Colorado recently, two students quit from their own yearbook staff after they were admonished by school administration for approving of a photo of a lesbian couple. Apparently the administration wasn’t too happy about it, reports ABC News. “You either cut the gay couple or I cut the page,” an advisor reportedly told Rudolph Tribulio. But he and his yearbook co-editor Anna Carmichael refused to back down and are now protesting the censorship.

The school is defending its actions, saying the photo showcased a little too much PDA. But the students say other photos in the book portray heterosexual couples kissing and showing the same if not more public affection. They say the school is discriminating against the lesbian couple.

This is hardly the first dust up over gay issues in the lodestone. Over the years, gay students have faced discrimination from both schools and yearbook editors. One lesbian in Mississippi had her yearbook picture pulled for wearing a tuxedo in the photo. And a student at a Christian school was recently told that she would not be permitted to come out in the yearbook after saying she was “out and proud” in her profile. Another yearbook banned the school’s own GSA from its pages. And still other openly LGBT students are often expected to mask their real feelings at an age when more and more young people are coming out.

But what is it about openly LGBT students that upset school administrators so? Surely if the yearbook is meant to embody the school spirit, by not allowing LGBT students to shine diminishes the lives of these young people. And with bullying and other issues in the news, these adults should – quite frankly – know better than to make anyone feel less secure about who they are as they’re coming of age.

“It’s actually kind of hypocritical because we’ve fought to have a gay-straight alliance here at Palmer,” Stephanie Friesen, a student at the school, told local KKTV news. “That way, gay and lesbian couples can be open with who they are. And then a picture comes up and they’re taking it out of the yearbook because it is a lesbian couple. I’m really confused about that.”

The high school yearbook hasn’t always been kind to people who are “different.” But we have to give credit to these brave young people who come out – as well as their straight friends who defend their right to so do.

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