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GA Teachers Axe Student-Council President For Trying To Welcome Gays To Prom

Reuben Lack, the student-body president at Alpharetta High School in Alpharetta, GA, wanted prom to be more inclusive for LGBT students, so he suggest a resolution at a meeting in January that would rebrand the prom king and queen competition as simply “prom court.”

What a nice thing to do—especially considering Lack is straight.

But the student council’s faculty advisor, Michelle Werre, didn’t like where that was going and silenced the discussion before a formal vote could be taken. At the next council meeting Lack (right) tried again to raise the issue, but was cut off by Werre.

“A week after that, he is called into a meeting with the two faculty advisers for student council, and they inform him, ‘We’re sorry, but you are no longer president of the student council,” Lack’s attorney, James Radford, told the Atlanta-based magazine Fenuxe. “It was that abrupt.”

Attorney?

Yep, Lack and his family are taking Werre and fellow advisor Emily Reiser—as well as principal Shannon Kersey—to federal court. The Lacks had tried to reach an agreement with the school without resorting to a lawsuit, but were greeted by a “dismissive letter” from the school’s lawyer. Lack is looking to be reinstated as student council president, as well as unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.

Good for you, Reuben, for standing up for what you believe in and letting your school know they don’t operate in a vacuum. And congratulations on having some awesome parents.

Source: Fenuxe. Photos: YouTube, Philthecow

By:           Dan Avery
On:           Mar 22, 2012
Tagged: , , , , ,
  • 21 Comments
    • takakupo
      takakupo

      Such a great story :D

      Mar 22, 2012 at 7:06 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Frederick
      Frederick

      Outside of the metropolitan Atlanta area, Georgia is such a backwards, redneck state. My hats off to this young man, as well as his parents, for standing their ground on this issue. Best of luck in their lawsuit!

      Mar 22, 2012 at 10:50 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jonathon
      Jonathon

      @Frederick, Alpharetta is a suburb of Atlanta. It is on the north side of town, up GA 400, north of Roswell.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 12:26 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fawkes
      Fawkes

      Where are the self-loathing gay conservatives (redundant, I know) to tell all of us how Lack is nothing but a no-good troublemaker? You’re falling behind, trolls.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LittIe,Kiwi
      LittIe,Kiwi

      what a wonderful young man. he’s today’s equivalent to the young men and women whose bigoted old teachers shot down their demands for racial equality.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Continuum
      Continuum

      It’s time to let the administrators know that their bigotry is distasteful.

      Here’s the link to the email page for the school administrators.

      http://www.ahsraiders.com/staff-organizations/staff-a-faculty/administrators

      And, if you click on the “staff and org” button on this page, you can find the emails for the school counselors, etc.

      http://www.ahsraiders.com/information/address-a-directions

      Mar 22, 2012 at 1:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Frederick
      Frederick

      @Jonathan-Sorry, I should’ve been more specific. Instead of saying the entire metropolitan area of Atlanta, I should have said other than “inside the loop/beltway” of the city. Even though I’m not familiar with Alpharetta,I’m very aware that there are some extremely conservative suburbs of Atlanta, since I used to live in Midtown.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tina T.
      Tina T.

      It appears that this kid’s lawsuit doesn’t try to address the prom discrimination issue itself and is only trying to get him reinstated. So I applaud him for trying to make prom more welcoming at the outset, but wish he hadn’t abandoned that part of it in his legal case.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 2:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SJ
      SJ

      FYI – Alpharetta is one of the most affluent communities in the state of Georgia and Alpharetta High School is one of the top public high schools in Georgia with SAT scores that average close to 1700.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 2:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Seriously?
      Seriously?

      @SJ: I was about to post a comment saying “that is mighty impressive, since the most you can get on the SAT is a 1600!” Then I went to the Googlez and realized that I am an old, and now the top score on the SAT is 2400.

      Oh, how very old am I. Waaah-waaah.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Red Meat
      Red Meat

      @Tina T.: He was going to put it up to a vote, so its not in his power to do so. If he gets his position back, he can put it up for a vote again but it will be too late, better luck next year.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam
      Sam

      @Tina T.: You can’t sue over hypotheticals. In order for there to be a lawsuit over “the prom discrimination issue,” there would actually have to be an issue (e.g. a female running for prom king, a male running for prom queen or a same-sex couple wanting to go together and the school was trying to stop any of those things from happening). Since this kid was (laudably) trying to proactively make his school more welcoming, and not actually trying to step in to fix an actual case of discrimination, there is actually nothing there to sue over – except for him being kicked out of student government for it.

      And in fact, since this kid is straight, it would actually be impossible for him to sue over same-sex discrimination himself – even if it were happening. You have to be the party who was hurt by the discrimination in order to sue over it. He’s doing all he can legally do. We shouldn’t tear him down for not doing things he’s not capable of doing.

      Mar 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • geoff
      geoff

      @Frederick: The “loop/beltway” is known to ‘all’ Atlanta residents as 285 or the Perimeter. Perhaps you were thinking of Chicago (Loop) or DC (Beltway) But then I know a lot of Midtowners who never go OTP

      Mar 22, 2012 at 8:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • The Real Mike in Asheville
      The Real Mike in Asheville

      @Seriously?: I fell into the same trap too …. at least I didn’t need to google anything since you did …

      Yep, we keep getting older, on the brighter side, youth stays young, and I like very much how every day there is another youth improving the world with their efforts on behalf of LGBT.

      Mar 23, 2012 at 8:58 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lion
      Lion

      Why is everyone so caddy on here

      Mar 23, 2012 at 10:30 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Izzy
      Izzy

      @Frederick:
      He was ‘fired’ on terms ASIDE from his proposal. If you read his injunction, the teachers listed out at least 13 other reasons as to why he was being let go from Student Council. I’m a senior at Alpharetta, and trust me, this story is being swayed in the WRONG direction. This has nothing to do with gay rights. It has more to do with a students’ want to gain publicity over an issue that was purely made public due to his want for attention. May I also note that Reuben did not participate in student council sponsored activities that HE was supposed to be a part of. His duty as the president was disregarded due to his commitment to his debate team.

      Mar 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • sue smith
      sue smith

      Thanks for telling the REAL TRUTH here, Izzy!! Reuben is out to destroy the integrity of his high school, its administration and some great teachers… Not to mention ruining school spirit and taking away from the great things past and current Student Councils have achieved. Both previous Student Council Presidents were FAR superior to him in their dedication to the student body at Alpharetta. This is a personal. political vendetta that is totally baseless.

      Mar 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nathaniel
      Nathaniel

      As Reuben’s father, it is shameful that students who claim they can read a legal brief are not capable of understanding what a protected right is. Nearly every reason given to Reuben for his removal was protected under the First Amendment. Most are just plain silly. An example: One item he was removed for was for a speech he gave to 8th grade kids and their parents in which he spoke about joining a team or club and then spoke about his personal experience joining the debate team. That speech, which was part of the basis for his removal, was pre-approved by the Principal as Reuben delivered the exact same speech at the beginning of the year to incoming 9th grade students. There is video of him delivering this speech with the Principal praising Reuben.

      Reuben is not responsible for your school spirit problems. Blame your Principal and the two teacher advisers for not knowing the law or how to read by laws of the council – by-laws which Reuben authored and had approved by the very same teachers and Principal as well as a past principal. Reuben only permitted the removal of any student by the advisers if, and only if, a matter were “serious enough” and did not involve a issues set out in a previous line. It essentially only gave the teacher the ability to remove a student from student council for a school rule violation – something that would get a kid suspended or expelled and which could not be brought to the members of the council to review… as is the procedure outlined in the by-laws.

      Every single reason Reuben was given can be proven to absolute certainty to be false and malicious. Reuben had been serving as both the Student Body president as well as the student representative on the Local School Advisory Council (LSAC). LSAC is an advisory board that advises the Principal on policy and budgetary matters. Reuben used his position to represent the students and gained the respect of the members of LSAC (who, until Reuben, had only seen a student body president once only to never return). They saw him as an asset who understood policy and budgets and voted him Parliamentarian. But he was removed by the Principal of her own advisory board – again in violation of Georgia law and the First Amendment.

      Reuben is a tough kid. While he is straight, he supports the LGBT community and even lobbied Congress on matters impacting them awhile back. But what he needs are friends who respect him for his courage. You do not have to agree with what he believes but you should defend his right to advocate to the fullest extent allowable. He was silenced. And while some students see this as Reuben hurting the school, there are students who are afraid to come out who see Reuben as a hero. He has always been my hero. I am so glad others can see what a pure soul he is. He will never back down as he has the facts and truth on his side. I have recordings of the principal making outright false statements to parents, distorting the truth and even suggesting that she has the right to go through students’ Facebook posts whenever she wants and suspend students when she finds something she doesn’t like. This woman is a serious liability for the school and school district. Under this principal, there have been serious violent acts committed on campus, a rise in drugs, alcohol and drugs consumed in the parking lot during football games and more. But go ahead and hate on Reuben. Surely the kid recognized for his community activism and concern for his fellow students with no record of any problems throughout his entire school career and the support of every teacher and principal that he knew from previous years, he MUST be seeking publicity, right? Certainly he loves having thousand of people flame his Facebook page with homophobic crap. Certainly he loves watching his dad scrap for the funds to afford an attorney to sue – not for money (since this isn’t a money case) but for rights. Reuben has college applications still pending at schools like Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, Penn, and Emory… so naturally, Reuben wanted to have this crap put in front of them a week before admission decisions are made. Right? That makes sense to you?

      Reuben gave the school six weeks to either show us a single shred of proof to backup the reasons they gave him or reverse it. The school could have proven the charges and refused to do so. So what would you do? Sit on your ass and feel sorry for yourself? Reuben isn’t wired this way. He knows that if the school can silence him, they can silence anyone (in fact the student council now is essentially run by the teachers according to Reuben’s brother and step brother who still serve on the council). Reuben knows if he is silenced and does not at least fight back to protect his good name and reputation, the LGBT community at the school will never see a change in how they are viewed and many will remain in the closet having no one who speaks for them. Reuben won’t have it. He WILL fight as long as it takes, and he WILL win. And those who are true friends will stick with him regardless of their personal views on this matter. And the door is always open for the school to come back to Reuben and resolve this amicably. He loves the school and his fellow students. He fights for them as much as for himself. I am very proud of my son.

      Mar 23, 2012 at 11:46 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AHS student
      AHS student

      Mr. Lack,
      Unfortunately, student council is a privilege, not a right. From what I’ve heard from those on student council is that in the initial discussion nearing the conclusion, everyone had agreed that prom king and queen were supposed to be one boy and one girl regardless of sexual preference. If that was not the case, it would be unfair to the gender which was excluded. There is nothing that doesn’t allow for gay students to go to prom with each other or to prevent them from becoming prom king or queen. However, sexual preference typically (I say typically because I am aware there are extremely rare cases) has nothing to do with gender. Personally, I do see this as Reuben hurting the school because if you look at comments on these articles, you will see countless people saying things “how typical of a Georgian school” and “what stupid administrators” – things which hurt our schools reputation. There is nothing you can say that changes the fact that people now see Alpharetta High as a backward community of ignorant and prejudice people. These are things which I usually see are far from the truth. I personally have friends who are gay at this school and I never seen any discrimination against them. Occasionally, there are certain students which make fun of them, but there are those students in any school you go at. I don’t know if it was Reuben’s intention for these ideas about Alpharetta to be spread, but nonetheless, now they have.

      Mar 24, 2012 at 7:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Braelena
      Braelena

      Well if he was voted in by the students then its the students who only should be able to remove him. And by the sounds of it he is there for the students, you go Mr. Lack!

      Mar 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Avis Marie Sandar
      Avis Marie Sandar

      I DO defend Reuben’s determination to do what is right and honest in this situation. If I were there, I’d demonstrate for him in front of the school! I find that entire situation totally ludicrous and would prosecute to the fullest extent of the Law.

      /Avis Marie Sandar

      Jul 6, 2012 at 8:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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