Mississippi Goddamn: High School Erases Lesbian Student From Yearbook

Comments

1
Wow, the Constance McMillen thing was already bad enough, but this is so seriously fucked. Erasing people from history in ways such as this is the type of shit you expect from dictatorships. This cannot be allowed to fade away -- it's past time for bigots like this to hear loud and clearly that they can't just do this crap and get away with it.
2
There goes half the yearbook sales.
3
See, this is precisely the set of circumstances when a rabid Pit Bull or twelve really WOULD come in handy.

Fucksticks, indeed.
4
@2 - Probably not, don't you have to order and pay for those things weeks or months ahead of time?
5
I don't know how it works everywhere, but my high school's yearbook content seemed more-or-less at the whim of the yearbook staff, and there wasn't a lot of space dedicated to students outside the staff's circle of friends, apart from obligatory inclusions like students involved in sports and extracurricular clubs.

Thinking the tux picture is a big deal is obviously ridiculous, but these fools really take the idiocy up a notch with their petty retribution. If I ran a college admissions office, I sure as hell wouldn't want these aspiring journalism majors anywhere near my school's program.
6
When you think about finishing high school your one big wish is to go to your Senior Prom and then pass around your Senior yearbook for your classmates to sign one last time. Those are 2 memorable moments in your life that you will never get back.

How can anyone who calls themselves an Educator deny them this? The sheer cruelty of these 2 seperate actions astound me.
7
Their web site sucks.
8
@4 is correct is most cases.

Keep it up Mississippi--plenty more tornadoes to come.
9
@3 ftw
10
"Copiah County School District spokeswoman Martha Traxler refused to comment on the school's reason for excluding Sturgis from the senior page, and referred all questions to Copiah County attorney Olen Bryant, Jr."

Martha Traxler's email address is martha.traxler@copiah.ms. She also shows up in a poorly-copy-edited article about the issue from October of last year: http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=1… wherein she claimed that "the issue goes beyond just clothing."

No shit, Martha.

Olen Bryant Jr. works for Bryant & Rutland, PLLC, whose firm website is http://www.olenbryant.com/; they have a contact form linked under "Email Us" and their number is 601-894-4555.
11
look at the vulgarity with which you need to express yourself. know what I say to this? big deal. adam and eve, not adam and steve. stop expecting everyone to celebrating your same sex relationships. i like gay people individually when i get to know them, and its your business. but stop trying to get straights to change our values.
you want it, you live with it.
leave us alone. if you don't like our style, go start your own school.
12
By the way, Mississippi has a Human Development Index of 0.799, putting it underneath Kazakhstan at 0.804.

(I discovered this while researching stuff related to the Arizona immigration law -- Sonora, the Mexican state to the south of Arizona, has a higher HDI than Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia, or Mississippi).
13
This utterly sucks...though I have to admit I don't understand the whole lesbian-and-tuxedo thing. I'm straight, but I'm not a girly-girl. Still, my mind doesn't go to tuxedo when I think of wearing something nice. I don't know.

Either way, though, who cares? Clothes are clothes. I wouldn't care if a boy wanted to wear a pink blouse, either.

As far as the school's name goes, a lot of really small, rural districts in Mississippi essentially have a one-building schoolhouse, where preK-12 go to the same school. They are always called attendance centers. Why? I have no idea.
14
@ 11? go fuck your cousin you god damn nazi.
15
From the end of the article:

"The students love and accept her," Rodriguez said. "The kids even nominated her for prom queen, but she ducked out, knowing the officials would never let her be prom queen."

At least in this case the students aren't assholes too.
16
@11 How does a Tuxedo offend your values?
17
I'm boycotting Mississippi as well as Arizona.
18
If it were me I'd start glueing my photo in all my friends yearbooks. Ridiculous
19
Many (most perhaps? - I don't recall) public high schools in Mississippi are called "attendance centers." There is no pretense of an education in these places.

This makes a strong statement about the emphasis that Mississippi places on education, and would be unbelievable if it were not actually true.

That, Dan, is WTF with the name.
20
The district's website is already down. Congratulations!
21
In the USA we have 49 states; Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana share a border; our main watershed is called Old Man River.
22
@18 - Genius!

Someone should print her some yearbook-page-sized stickers with her photo and all the other standard yearbook stuff, so her friends can paste them over the photos of the yearbook staff and/or administrators who are responsible for this crap.

Re-revisionist history FTW.
23
@4 - good point.

Maybe they can sue as a class action for their money back.

but I love @18.
24
whoops, my mistake -- the website's not down, it just sucks.
25
Dear Mr Hawkins,

Did you realize that officials in Soviet Russia used to require schools to "update" their textbooks by pasting unrelated entries over the biographies of former Stalin insiders who fell out of favor with that mercurial leader? This sounds
suspiciously like what your school has done to Ceara Sturgis, with all references to her time at the high school having been removed from her senior yearbook.

Are you folks really proud of yourselves for taking such demeaning, bigoted, and petty actions against a teenager? I feel sorry for anyone so scared of people who are even
slightly different from themselves, as appears to be the case here.

None of the adults involved with this travesty deserve to keep their jobs.

Sincerely,
26
@5, the staff of my senior yearbook printed the pictures of all 200-odd sophomores on one double-page spread, each one about the size of your fingernail, and issued the book with a crackerjack magnifying glass. Yes, there was a furor, and many bottoms were spanked, theoretically at least. Very offensive, and pretty funny too.
27
Dear Ms. Traxler,

I'm writing because Dan Savage asked us to let you know how inappropriate and mean it was to exclude Ceara Sturgis from your yearbook. I'm sure you're hearing from a lot of people already, and you'll be hearing from many more soon. The phones at the school will be ringing off the hook tomorrow, with angry people expressing their hurt at your decision to discriminate against Ms. Surgis because of her sexuality.

The time has come when news of bigoted actions like yours are rapidly disseminated over the internet, and people like me -- and there are a lot of people like me -- will make sure your work is distracted. If you thought you could just make Ms. Sturgis disappear, you were wrong. Now she's the most well known thing about your school district, your county, and probably your career.

Surprise! This is how the civil rights movement is going to work in the internet age. We've learned we can advance civil rights from anywhere, and we're going to advance them everywhere. Because we're people, we're Americans, and we deserve to be treated equally under the law and with respect.

Thank you very much, and good luck with the tsunami of distraction over the next couple of weeks. You're going to get all the notice your actions deserve.

Best wishes
28
If 1984 were on the reading list, maybe they would've had second thoughts about making her an UnPerson. Probably not, though.
29
@11

Ha ha ha... You're hysterical. So you "value" hate & emotional cruelty, huh? No one is trying to change you, all we're doing is calling you out & showing the world what assholes you are for valuing bottom-of-the-barrel morality. Live free, I say.

But stop acting like a WATB when people treat you like you deserve: as a douchebag and a dickwad. If that's what you value, then that's how people will react to you.
30
Breaks my heart.

A tuxedo is only clothes, it is formal and respectable. I presume it had no vulgar statements to decorate it, derogatory slogan to make it offensive. It was a tuxedo, she wore a tuxedo. And, some how that justifies her being erased from the yearbook, she is invisible now.

When will we learn that when you scratch one of us, you will find all of us. When you treat others badly, you treat yourself badly. And, when you deny one person their humanity, you are also denying your own.

I'm off to compose some emails.
31
To Oscar Hawkins and the staff of the Wesson Attendance Center:

Congratulations for raising your school to national prominence! It's a shame you did so not by creating a curriculum of depth and excellence, but by your short-sighted and, ultimately, counterproductive actions.

Ceara Sturgis and your appalling treatment of her is now what will be most readily known about your fine institution and possibly your career- your names will now be tied together in news stories and written articles forever.

In the 21st century, every written word is preserved and tied to you always. Enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Cheers,
32
I bet if a straight girl wanted to appear in a tux in her senior photo the staff would be a-ok with that. On the other hand, if they think they can successfully punish people for being openly gay, they're wrong. If you have enough self-confidence to be out in high school in a conservative place, a little administrational bullying probably isn't going to make you back down.
33
I wasn't going to send in an email, because I'm too tired from work and too depressed by all the crap that is in the world.

And then I pulled my shit together, and got typing. If anyone else out there is feeling like they don't have the heart/energy/words, hopefully this will help. Change whatever, I don't care.

To Ronald Greer and Oscar Hawkins;

The most powerful and cruel way to dehumanize someone, to make them both invisible and unreal, is to take away their name. You erase their identity and their individual self-ness, that tiny flame we were all born with which makes us known to each other and to ourselves. Many powerful and terrible people have known this; concentration camp victims were given numbers in place of names, African American slaves' names changed depending on the whim of each new master. These are serious and outrageous examples, and yet I think they are appropriate. Wesson Attendance Center's complete failure to mention graduating senior Ceara Sturgis does not only withhold from her the same respect, the same honor that other students received when they were pictured, and named, celebrated. It is dangerous, because it was motivated by fear and hate, and it encourages others to also think of Ceara as a non-person. Remember the youth in your school who look to you for examples on how to treat their fellow human beings. Make the honorable, courageous choice, and right this wrong.

Sincerely yours,
34
wait...i just figured out how it works...if you pretend something you don't like never was, well, it NEVER WAS.
So everyone, say it together now, "There are no bigoted cruel individuals in the world."... there, now see, all better.
35
Here's what I wrote:

Dear Ms. Traxler, Mr. Greer, and Mr. Hawkins,

Did you know that teens who are homosexual account for more than 30% of all teen suicides in the US? I wonder why that is? Could it perhaps be that many of these teens come from places like Copiah County, where "God fearing" folks indoctrinate children to believe that, if they are different, they are unlovable?

From what I understand of Ms. Sturgis, she is a kind, caring, intelligent, popular, and hardworking member of your Wesson community. How have you chosen to honor her for this? By deleting her, and any mention of her, from the yearbook! I was absolutely in shock when I read this story. I am disgusted and appalled that any child could be treated like this by the community that she has been a part of her entire life. You should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves.

Now, Ms. Sturgis is a lucky girl because she has a family and friends who love and support her despite the fact that she is "different." I use the word "different" with hesitance because, first of all, I am from a place where people's differences are celebrated rather than reviled. Second of all, I don't know anyone who doesn't possess qualities that are different from my own and different from what people like yourselves consider "normal."

Do you not have teenagers in your community who have gotten into trouble with the law, or who have become pregnant out of wedlock, or who have tormented and bullied their peers? Are these students allowed to be remembered in the yearbook? What if Ms. Sturgis was Jewish, or physically handicapped, or different in another way that was completely out of her control? Would you ostracize her then? What if it were your sons or daughters who were being treated this way? Do you not think that there could easily be (and probably is) a member of your family who was born, not with an affliction, disease, or abnormality, but with a propensity to love, even if the way in which they love is different from your own?

Assuming your hatred is founded in religious zeal, and also that you refer to yourselves as "Christians," I challenge you to locate a passage in the New Testament where Jesus preaches that we should respond to things we don't understand with bigotry, persecution, and censure, rather than love, understanding, and kindness.

Ms. Sturgis is a good person who has done nothing wrong, except, perhaps, believe that she could be true to herself and honest with the people around her, and be accepted and loved in return. There will come a time, soon, when Ms. Sturgis will have the opportunity to leave your miserable, oppressive influence. She will go to college somewhere that she will be embraced as an individual, which is what she deserves. She will go on to live a beautiful life, filled with knowledge, growth, and love. From time to time she will, perhaps, regret that she doesn't have a keepsake from her high school years, to remember the friends who supported her during a time when the adults around her did not. She will be fine though.

Ms. Sturgis will not become one of the numbers of teens who commit suicide because they are taught by people like you that they do not deserve to be happy. Perhaps this disappoints you? Perhaps you would prefer that a wonderful and intelligent young woman, who is full of promise, would crumble under your criticism and choose death over a future? How many teens in your community have already made this choice due to fear of persecution? Unless you wisen up and begin to truly live by the "Christian" values you claim to possess, there will most certainly be more.

I hope that the ACLU sues you and that the damages you are forced to pay to Ms. Sturgis will pay for her education, and, in turn, facilitate her freedom from the miserable existence you are forced to endure. Ms. Sturgis will be just fine. I fear for those who come after her.

You are detestable and monstrous. I don't personally believe in Hell, but, if I am wrong, which I am sure you believe I am, I hope that there is a particular spot reserved for the three of you right next to the furnace. From that vantage point you will surely have a good view of the rest of your fellow residents whom you can vilify and judge for the rest of eternity. Enjoy.

Sincerely,
36
E-mailed this in already. This is really my only response.

To whom it may concern,

In this world, we are always accountable for the things we do. No matter how small, consequences exist for every act. When we do right, we are rewarded, if only with our own personal pride. When we lash out at other people and commit acts that we recognize will hurt them, we are punished - if not by our own shame, then by the eyes of those around us who will look upon us with less respect for who we are. The only thing that can speak for our characters is our actions. When we hurt others, it tells those who look at us that we are callous, cold-hearted, cruel people. What this school has done to Ceara Sturgis does not undermine her - after all, she still did all the work and those who know her will recognize her hard work and dedication that put her on the honor roll - it only undermines the integrity of the school. Keep that in mind, the next time you decide to lash out at a student who dares to be different.
37
#33, your words are beautiful
38
Hrm.

The elephant in this room is that Mississippi (and other localities which could be construed as its sympathizers) have drawn their line in the sand, and they will hold that line until it is wrested from their cold, dead, rigid hands. They have a stellar track record for this — what with the CSA, holding onto Jim Crow, burying public swimming pools.

Expect all of this to come to a bitter, protracted, hard fought, ugly end in the U.S. Supreme Court. You could probably safely invest on that as a wager.
39
that really sucks! its kinda like the way trans people have been erased from history here, it is time to start holding people accountable and not shut up until they acknowledge, that yes it is WRONG to do these things, and be made to undo as much damage as they can and until they do this we must publicly shame them...often!!!
40
@39: Hey, you said it, not me.

But I don't think I follow you. Or if I do follow, then I'm not exactly in total agreement. If anything, the Mormon thread today seems more like a transsexual analogy in that "certification of baptization" is some kind of destiny the way a birth certificate might be to those who'd want to institutionally keep things that way, if you can dig.
41
they suck. I wish I had copied one of the entries above as I am all bleary-eyed and sent off an email that was not nearly half as good... Maybe I will send a new one tomorrow!!

Great writing guys. (and girls)
42
This is rich: Wesson is listed on this web site as a "great school"! You can rank the school right there on the site to warn parents away.

Wesson got a very low ranking from me - imagine that.

http://snipurl.com/vu48s
43
Just to be clear, the Jackson Free Press is the ONLY non-fuckstick publication in Mississippi, so try not to call them that when you link to their page. PLEEEEEAAAASSSEEEE?

Ex-Mississippian Ballardite
44
OK, so maybe they are bigoted fucksticks, but the school's got a great math program. Just check out what they have to say about their pre-calculus / trigonometry class: http://www2.mde.k12.ms.us/1500/WAC/hw/tr…
45
@43: Just curious, but what brings you to Ballard, Ex-Mississippian Ballardite?
46
Scratch that... great academic program over all. Every link says the same thing.... they haven't had a homework assignment in at least six years.
47
Disgusting.
48
Email sent.
49
How about starting a campaign to get all sympathetic female students to wear tuxes and males to wear something alternative) to next year's proms, all over the country, in solidarity?
50
I sent the principal this email:

Dear Mr. Hawkins,

I can't believe that you and your administration made the decision to exclude an honor student from this year's yearbook just because of her sexual orientation and her wish to dress in a different type of formalwear than the other girls in the senior class. How could you be so small-minded and thoughtless? It's 2010, you should be able to deal with the image of a woman wearing a tuxedo. For example, Janelle Monae looks great in hers and so do her other women dancers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xktMnfb0Q… so maybe you should learn to respect your students' awesome sartorial choices?

I suggest that everyone else spam him with the "Tightrope" video too.
51
#50, thank you so much for linking to Janelle Monae's new video. I saw her Many Moons video on youtube last year and recently started wondering why I hadn't heard anything more about her (because I thought she'd be HUGE). For the last few days I've been trying to remember anything about her or the song so I could google something and track it down again. I am enchanted.

Seriously people, check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHgbzNHVg…
(after you write an email to the morons at the Wesson Attendance Center -- those people make me sick)
52
Kristi, she has an album coming out on the 18th!
53
@ 17 - I ask this in all sincerity: How does one go about boycotting Mississippi? I'm pretty sure the only time I've had contact with the state's economy was when I was driving from New Orleans to Georgia and had to stop for gas. It's not exactly a high-export state.
54
Thanks For The Numbers. Now I can Call and Say "Good Job! Stick to Your Guns! Don't Back Down to Your Beliefs"!!!!
55
@ 14, 16, 29 - A gentle suggestion, guys. Slog started hiding unregistered comments so that you don't have to look at them. We all know Alleged is a blithering idiot. Don't go out of your way to feed the trolls.

I'd comment on the substance of the story itself, but everyone seems to have it covered. This is outrageous, and it's up to us to make sure that erasing a student from the yearbook is a far, far bigger distraction than just letting her be ever could have been.
56
Thanks For the Numbers!!! Now I Can Call & Say "Good Job!! Way to Go! Stick to Your Guns and Dont Back Down"!!!!!!!
57
My HS yearbook managed to leave out 803 senior photos.
58
Yikes, sorry for the comment spam, but this is worth noting. The school district really needs to fire their lawyers. Any lawyer stupid enough to think you can rely on "precedent" set by a case that settled - and therefore resulted in no legal holding - needs to be tossed out.

Also, "arbitrary and capricious" is a standard of review used to review a lower court's holding on appeal. It's also a term of art that generally refers to administrative regulations. I suppose, by its literal meaning, it could be stretched to encompass something like a school photo policy, but again, any lawyer who doesn't realize that "arbitrary and capricious" is a term of art? Needs to be fired.
59
I think that the whole of Mississippi, my home state by the way, is and still remains one of the most oppressive places to live BECAUSE of all the bigotry. I gre up gay in southern Mississippi in the late 70's and early 80's and it was certainly no walk in the park by any means. Yet, double standards run rampant, it seems anywhere you go. In most places it easier to accept a lesbian girl in a tux than a gay guy in a dress, or two chicks gettin it on butlet it be two guys and everyone wants to fuss, fight, and gay bash about it. I was neither "out" nor "closeted" growing up there in Mississippi. Yet, how ironic it was that some of the very people who taunted me and branded me the school fag were the same people I ran into in the gay bars after high school. It amazes me how the very places who are so damn conservative are often the very places who have the most outrageous double standards and closet cases to the max!! Even where I live in a small town in north Texas, the same holds true. A local lake/park nearby was once a very "cruisey" place where gay guys met to play in the woods (until local law enforcement got wind of it and set up a sting, that is). They busted nearly 40+ guys, some of whom were doing NOTHING but just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Strangely still were prominent members of the community such a several local lawyers, doctors, and god forbid even one of the local judges, but also the local first baptist church decon who at age 70, was so ruined by the incident for his little dirty "secret" to be found out in the WAY that it was, that he put a gun to his head!! All one has to do is look on the men for men listings on ones local craigslist page and do a little investigating and "meeting" on one's own to find out just exactly WHO in your neighborhood, IS SILENTLY AND "DISCREETLY" QUEER AS A THREE DOLLAR BILL!! Yet, it is those very people who are the ones who shout "morals", "religious doctrines" and "oh we must protect the children from such perversion." GET REAL PEOPLE!! KIDS TODAY ARE NOT MUCH DIFFERENT THAN WE OF THE BABY BOOM GENERATION. THE VERY THINGS YOU TRY TO TELL THEM "NOT" TO DO, ARE OFTEN THE VERY THINGS THEY PURSUE WITH THEIR RAGING HORMONES!!! GUYS WILL EXPERIMENT WITH GUYS AND GIRLS WILL EXPERIMENT WITH THE GAY SIDE AS WELL. THIS ALSO INCLUDES DRINKING, DOING DRUGS, AND PARTYING. ADMIT IT!! WE ALL DID IT AT THAT AGE. BUT, not all of us turned out totally gay any more than some turned out totally straight either. Androgyny is here to stay wether the religious bigots like it or not yet it is often the religious bible thumpin idiots who are the BIGGEST closet cases are are always lookin to be blown by another guy. I know because I see it all the time in my locale and have experienced it equally as much in a place like Mississippi. The more conservative a locale, the more closet cases there will be. Its just a fact of life. People, gays and lesbians included, confuse being and living "out" with self-acceptance and their efforts of being "out" is, by most, considered "flaunting it." This is where even the gay people of the world are so short sighted and "invite" trouble. I say this because even in my own conservative community, my partnr of quite a few years and I are members of a local very conservative parish. We are well respected as a couple as it does not take a rocket scientist to figure it out. BUT, WE DO NOT FALUNT THE FACT THAT WE ARE A COUPLE. This is where those unfortunate young ladies in a backwoods Mississippi school are making their biggest mistake, I think. I sympathsize with them exremely. However, I have learned that to get along in the world and to truly achieve harmony, well, sometimes you simply just have to learn to "play the part", as it were. If you live in a conservative area and behave in a way contrary to that conservatism, then you are inviting trouble, regardless of how much you like to believe that its about "gay pride", "self-acceptance", etc. etc. AD NAUSEAM!!! Yeah, sure, I'd love to embrace my partner in public like straight people get away with doing but there is a big difference between being embracingly endearing and out right makin out in public which I am totally opposed to, both gay and straight. I am, have always been and always will be a Liberal. We HAVE come a long way in terms of gay rights, 'tis true. However, it remains obvious that people in Mississippi haven't gotten ANYWHERE in terms of acceptance of people different than themselves. Since many of the kids nowadays DON'T REALLY CARE about sexual orientation, it seems to me that the only ones making an issure of those lesbian girls are more the administration than the student body but to make EVERYONE have to suffer by cancelling the prom or completely erasing that girl from the year book is absolutely deplorable. I grew up gay there in Mississippi and most of my classmates didn't really care. I never made an issue of being "out" because I was struggling with coming to terms with my own identity then anyway and even had a girlfriend AND attended prom. Despite it all, deep down inside I knew I was gay but later on in life came to terms with the fact that I like BOTH, that I AM POLYAMOROUS and even my partner now is also and neither of us give a damn what people "think". It is ALL a matter of perspectives and people (especially those bigots in Mississippi, my own idiotic family included), really NEED to get things into proper perspective because in the end, no matter how you slice it, WE'RE HERE, WE'RE QUEER, GET USED TO IT!!!!!!!!!!
60
@55
I looked up "blithering idiot".
It said it is 'someone who thinks all unregistered posts are by the same person'.
It had your picture as an illistration.

(you seem a little obsessed with our troll-
still buttsore over something?)
61
@ 58 - Sorry, need to post a correction. I did a bit of research, and it turns out the federal district court DID rule in favor of the school district in Youngblood; the case settled while it was on wait for appeal. That still makes it a pretty lousy case to rely on, though I will admit to passing judgment far too quickly in dismissing the school board's lawyers as criminally idiotic. That being said, a case that settles out of court in the plaintiff's favor is not likely to carry much weight as defendant-friendly precedent. Besides, a district court case in Florida is not going to have precedental value in Mississippi (only "persuasive authority").
62
@55
And the new Unregistered mode is an aid to all the brilliant hipsters who bitch and whine about unregistered comments but weren't clever enough to click the 'off' button themself.

Soon the Slog will be introducing a new "let Slog wipe your ass for you since you don't seem to be able to master that either..." feature. Stay tuned!
63
I wrote the following letter:

Dear Donald Greer and Oscar Hawkins,

I read a story from the Jackson Free Press about a student named Ceara Sturgis in her senior year of high school at Wesson Attendance Center. I read that her picture was going to be deleted from her yearbook, and I understand that this is because of the student's wish to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress. I understand from Superintendent Ricky Clopton that your decision to delete her picture is based upon "sound educational policy", even though students who have been busted for drugs and who have dropped out from school had their pictures included in the same yearbook, and even though Ceara had wonderful grades compared to the rest of her classmates. When the yearbook did come out, Ceara Sturgis' name was completely removed, and none of her accolades for her academic performances were mentioned - it was as if Ceara had never existed at Wesson Attendance Center despite her twelve years there. When considering a sound educational policy, it seems perplexing that clothing attire would take such an egregious precedence compared to serious matters such as academic performance, drug use and dropping out of school. However, I also understand that Ceara Sturgis is a lesbian, and I am aware of the pervasive and crippling homophobia in the state of Mississippi that would drive institutions such as high schools to discriminate against those whose sexual orientations are different, despite educational policy. If I could be frank, it seems like a walk over a small crack on the sidewalk as opposed to a leap of faith to think that Wesson Attendance Center removed Ceara Sturgis completely from her yearbook primarily because she is a lesbian, in the name of a sound educational policy that appears to defy drug usage and schoold drop-outs and scof at individual academic excellence. If I were Ceara Sturgis, I would feel thankful to be free from association with a school that appears to be enslaved by the repugnance and cowardice of bigotry, but I would also hope that the school finds a way to free itself from this bigotry, because the world is a beautiful place when everyone is free together, as Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed decades ago. Donald Greer and Oscar Hawkins, we will do what we can to help free both of you and everyone else at Wesson Attendance Center, for I can't wait for the day when all of us are free at last.

Sincerely,
Sean Chapin
64
@ 61 - Further clarification (sorry, I swear I'm done after this one, really). Because, as I noted, Youngblood took place in Florida (11th Circuit) and this is in Mississippi (5th Circuit) - in addition to the fact that the case ultimately settled out of court in the plaintiff's favor - for the district's lawyers to assert that Youngblood is "legal precedent" is still blatantly wrong. It is possible (in fact, probable) that language was simply chosen for the press release, but if the district's lawyers led the school district to believe that Youngblood is actual legal precedent, then they need some new lawyers.
65
Thanks for alerting me to this, Dan. Sorry I saw it a few days late, but I wrote about it to help spread the word:
http://asacynicseesit.blogspot.com/2010/…
66
So disheartening. These actions are against everything I believe a "school" to be. Needless to say, an email was sent to the principals. Thanks for following this injustice & bringing it to our attention, Dan.
67
WhaWhaWha ... who gives a crap, so she wasnt in the year book, I wouldn't want a guy who fiddled with a sheep pictured in one either.
68
My two cents to the ignorant fucksticks:
Dear Mr. Ronald Greer and Mr. Oscar Hawkins,

Please, please, tell me this isn't true. Please tell me you didn't obliterate all reference to a student - an honor student who has attended the schools in your district for her entire twelve year education - from her senior yearbook because she tried to wear a tux in her senior class photo.

I hope you can tell me this isn't true, Mr. Greer and Mr. Hawkins, because if it is true then you have just done yourselves, your school,your state and the students you're supposed to be educating a grave and unforgivable disservice. You've demonstrated to the country once again that Mississippi is clinging to its roots of bigotry and intolerance, and you've demonstrated clearly to your student body that being true to yourself is a bad thing and that it's okay to discriminate against someone because their view of the world doesn't match up to yours.

I pity those students, gentlemen, for when they graduate this June and go out into the world, they will be at a disadvantage. You have not prepared them to go out into the world and be productive members of society, as is your duty. No, you have taught them that hatred and bigotry are acceptable, and that will certainly make it difficult for them to get along well in the world outside Wesson Attendance Center. For the rest of the world is waking up to the idea that people aren't cookies cut from the same mold, and that every human being - regardless of race, color, creed, ethnicity, religious affiliation, gender identity or sexuality - deserves dignity and respect.

Shame on you, gentlemen. Shame.

Sincerely,
Hannah
69
I'm just going to say that they are stupid fucktards and that it's a very Stalin-ish of them to try and erase her from their exhaulted (not!) Wesson Attendance Center history.

They will be getting a very irate email from me and I hope that one day we won't have to deal with stupid BS like this anymore.
70
So I called the school. They told me to look at the yearbook. I'd love to. Please post pictures of the page in question. Prove me wrong. Jerks.
71
What a great topic for her to write her essay on for college applications
72
Here's what I wrote.

Mr. Greer and Mr. Hawkins,

I am curious to know how you justify to yourselves the unkindness you have perpetrated against a smart, well-behaved teenage girl. Erasing all traces of Miss Sturgis from your school's yearbook was extraordinarily childish, cruel, and altogether despicable. Whether you understand her or not, she is a child in your school's care, an honor student who has worked earnestly for twelve years, and you have a responsibility to treat her fairly. She exists.

If you have any decency, you will reprint that yearbook and issue a public apology.

73
I was made an unperson in my yearbook my junior and senior years and my photos were sent down the memory hole as well (even in the actual class pictures).

I wasn't gay though, just punk.
74
shame, shame on all the responsible parties.

we must fight for miss strugis, this should not ever happen to any child.
75
@42 Awesome. Everyone please help rate this school to reflect the stellar reputation that it is getting for itself.

"Wesson got a very low ranking from me - imagine that. "
" http://snipurl.com/vu48s "
76
This is starting to seem like one of those things that requires a concerted national response: Freedom Riders, marches, the whole bit.
77
My letter:

Dear Mr. Greer,

Having taught in a secondary school for over twenty years, I simply cannot believe that the faculty who oversee the yearbook could either countenance or endorse a decision to eliminate all pictures and references to Ceara Sturgis, unless the felt they had both sanction and approval. I suspect that they would never arrive at such a decision without first consulting with their principal.

I therefore am forced to the conclusion that you are culpable, and ultimately responsible, for the decision to “erase” Ceara Sturgis from the yearbook.

A yearbook should represent the entire student body—whether or not individual students have the favor of the faculty and administration. A yearbook is, in essence, an historical document. You and your staff have attempted to rewrite history, making it conform to your own arbitrary and capricious criteria, by erasing an intelligent, hardworking young woman of whose sexuality you happen to disapprove.

Fortunately for all of us, history means progress. I believe that the childish and vindictive actions of you and your staff demonstrate that you are now, and will remain, on the wrong side of history.

I was born and raised in the South, and have lived in it for fifty years. For three years, though, I attended graduate school in New York City. During those three years, I frequently had to defend my home, arguing that the South was unfairly stereotyped as being peopled by hateful bigots. Unfortunately for me, Mr. Greer, you have given the lie to my arguments, and have further cemented the image of the South as hostile and hateful.
78
@67
"I wouldn't want a guy who fiddled with a sheep pictured in one either"

Is that why you weren’t in YOUR yearbook?
79
I emailed both principals.

I also called the school, but apparently they're involved in state testing until Friday, on which day I'll call back to speak with either of the principals directly. You should call, too.
80
Has anyone seen the yearbook? I just got off the phone with the school administrator who was quick to correct me and said that Ceara IS in the yearbook?? She then told me that the yearbook hasn't even been available to anyone yet? So, what the fuck is going on? Are they lying? Will someone please clear this up, so I don't look like a retarded and unprepared activist??
81
Actually #59, I never did any of that stuff.
82
thanks Janelle for posting this link!
my email reads as follows:

Dear Mr. Hawkins,

My favorite singer Janelle Monåe wears a tuxedo and that doesn't keep her from being in magazines or on TV or from anything! If anything, it empowers her. I would hate to wake up to a world is which freedom of expression does not hold truth. We are not all robots! Some of us DO indeed think out of the box. I think the Wesson Attendance Center too. Don't ruin someone's life. What if it was you?

Most sincerely,

E.T.
83
@ 80, go back to the linked article where the mom says she had a yearbook. I'd say that the school official lied to you.
84
My short & sweet email:

Dear Mr Greer, 

Very saddened to hear about Ms. Ceara Sturgis' yearbook situation. 

I hope you've taken a look at this video. There is nothing wrong with a woman in a tux! 

Janelle Monae's "TightRope" 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xktMnfb0Q…

Sincerely, 

Nastassia
85
This is ridiculous.

There was a girl in my high school who killed two people while drinking and driving and mutilated the two others in the car with her. She still openly drank in public even after that. She still got to graduate with us and be in the yearbook and, in general, be a normal high schooler. The only thing they wouldn't let her to is walk the aisle at graduation and on weekends she had to spend in a juvenile center.

Why does a girl who essentially murdered two people and destroyed the lives of two other people get better treatment than a girl who happens to likes other girls. This is messed up.
86
#83 The argument she made is that they haven't even been available to faculty. I read the article, but unfortunately, before I go off half-cocked I'd sure like to have some facts to back it up? The word of a parent whose child has been treated like shit by the school district sure gets my blood up, but it still doesn't qualify as a fact. Can anyone provide evidence that is is, in "fact" true?? I mean, Yearbooks are copyrighted material and can't be on the internet without the schools written permission, so how can we get some evidence. I would certainly like to write a harshly worded missive to the school's principal, it's staff and the school board...but not if I'm wrong. I'm sure that if it were true, the school wouldn't need to lie about it or they would provide staff with a talking point to handle irate callers and the press? So?? Anyone? It's an emotional issue, but emotions can cloud judgment and shouldn't take the place of truth. Have any other students come forward on this issue? I haven't been able to find more information.
87
She's got a page on facebook if you want more info... but this happened back in September.
88
FUCKSTICKS!!!AARRGGHH...SHAME ON U.S.A:-(
89
Hey, don't call the school officials here fucksticks. Fucksticks are fun.
90
Just when you think it can't get any crazier.... Congratulations Mississippi, you've gobsmacked me again!

Please. As so many people have posted (much more eloquently) before me, it's a tux. She was wearing clothes, yes? And if the picture required formal wear, a tux surely counts, right?

So what's the big deal?

Mr. Greer and Mr. Hawkins, I respectfully ask that you Google "women's tuxedo". It's a style trend y'know. Been around for quite a while.

Just so you know.

91
freedom-loving conservatives at work
92
I'm trying to get everyone I know to publish Ceara's photo on their blog, webpage, Facebook page, Twitter -- however you roll, put her photo up there. The asshats at her school may not be willing to publish it, but we can. Let's make her senior photo the most-viewed senior photo in history.

http://style-spy.blogspot.com/2010/04/ce…
93
What really surprises me in both this issue and Constance's issue, is that ANYONE thinks women wearing tuxedos is a new scary "lesbian" thing. Women in the 70s were doing this. I almost did for my own prom 10+ years ago (and I'm not a lesbian, I just thought it looked nice and was looking less problematic than trying to find a dress that fit). Betty and Veronica did it in a comic I read when I was a kid! Why is it so threatening NOW all of a sudden for a girl to want to wear a nice, tailored tux to the prom? Is it abruptly SO impossible to wrap heads around the concept of a girl who's not all that into skirts?
94
Women in the 1920s were doing it.
95
@86 facts are good things. I will wait a bit, before firing off a letter, to see what gets posted.
96
I want to know if this is about gender expression more than sexual orientation. I believe they told her that she must wear a dress and she refused and was thereby excluded. If she wore a dress, she would have been included, despite her sexual orientation. So, why does the story focus on her sexual orientation when it is actually her gender expression that is the issue?
97
It's time for all the girls attending proms to wear tuxedos.
98
I AM IN OUTRAGE! HOW DARE WESSON ATTENDANCE CENTER NOT INCLUDE STUDENT Ceara Sturgis IN THEIR YEARBOOK BECAUSE OF SEXUAL PREFERENCE! I AM A PRODUCT OF A LESBIAN MOTHER AND IT IS BECAUSE OF PLACES LIKE WESSON AND DISCRIMINATORY ACTIONS THAT PEOPLE ARE AFRAID AND CONFUSED ABOUT THEY’RE SEXUALITY! IF PEOPLE THINK IT IS A CHOICE TO BE HOMOSEXUAL THEY ARE WRONG! DO PEOPLE CHOOSE TO BE STRAIGHT? OR LACK THERE OF? NO, I THINK NOT THEY DID NOT CHOOSE IT EITHER THEY WERE BORN LIKE THAT JUST LIKE HETEROSEXUALS ARE BORN LIKE THAT!
IT IS SAD TO SAY THAT SUCH HATE IS STILL ALIVE IN THIS WORLD AND WESSON ATTENDANCE CENTER IS JUST CONTRIBUTING TO IT! WESSON IS NO EDUCATOR TO ME AND ARE ONLY THE PROBLEM!

99
Other people have probably mentioned this already, but lots of female celebrities have worn tuxedoes and America loved them for it! Most notably of course is the famous, gorgeous picture of Marlene Dietrich rocking a tuxedo. The difference here, I'm guessing, is intent: This student was (potentially) making a statement about her sexuality—as opposed to simply looking sexy (to men) in a tuxedo—and the school can't handle that. Bigots need to get their heads out of their asses and look at the bigger picture.
100
Personally, I don't see the connection between Marlene Dietrich being able to wear a tuxedo and this particular student. They are different people living in very different times and surrounded by different people with extremely different ideas about what's right for a teenager to wear in her yearbook. She refused to wear gender-normative uniform and she decided that wearing the gender-normative clothing for boys was the best choice for her. Her clothing choice is the issue, not whether her sexuality is acceptable.

Also Constance McMillan chose to wear a tuxedo because her school refused to let a trans student complete one day of school because his clothing choices were too controversial. Her choice of the tuxedo was made to protest the restrictive policies regarding gender expression.

Both schools require students to be gender-normative and these two young adults refused to play along. They may both be lesbians, but the issue is about gender, not sexuality.