The San Antonio Express News reports a photo of 16-year-old junior Felicia Rivera embracing her girlfriend, Lialani Hernandez, 17, was to be included on the yearbook’s Valentine’s Day page, along with five other couples.
But according to Rivera, once yearbook supervisor Amey Graybeal realized that the picture was of two girls, it was dropped.
“On Friday, February 22, 2013, the yearbook staff refused to put a gay couple on the couple’s page in the yearbook,” reads the petition, which has garnered nearly 300 signatures. “They claimed that they have nothing against gay rights, but are scared of how much criticism the school would get and how parents of straight people would refuse to buy the yearbooks.”
School officials, however, claim that the photo was pulled because it depicted too much PDA, in violation of the school’s handbook.
“It’s just an intimate picture; there’s no eye contact, they’re both looking down. It looks like a pretty intimate moment,” said Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez. “The Northside School District prides itself on providing the most high quality education for all students, and we welcome all students, as well as a safe and welcome environment. It’s important to know that the students are safe at Brennan High School.”
“I saw the page, and there are other PDA images that didn’t get pulled,” Felicia told the New York Daily News. “There was a guy’s arm around a girl’s shoulder. Other people were holding hands.”
Felicia’s father, Felix Rivera, is completely behind his daughter and after meeting with the school principal, plans to go through the yearbook “page by page” to make sure that no straight couples were depicted in a similar way.
As for Felicia, she doesn’t really care whether the photo gets included or not; for her the matter is “why it was pulled in the first place.” She and Lialani plan to start a gay-straight alliance at Brennan.
“Ever since I was little I’ve been sort of an outcast, you could say, but I mean I lived with it,” Felicia told KENS 5 News. “You shouldn’t be discriminated against just because you’re gay. You shouldn’t worry about people bashing you or talking behind your back just for you to be you.”