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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 30, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 18
Mississippi high school cuts Lesbian student from yearbook
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Mississippi high school cuts Lesbian student from yearbook

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

When Mississippi high school senior Ceara Sturgis opened her yearbook on April 23, she could not find her photo. The ugly truth: Wesson Attendance Center school officials had purposefully not included her photo - in which Sturgis is wearing a tuxedo - and had not mentioned her name at all.

"They didn't even put her name in it," Sturgis' mother, Veronica Rodriguez, said. Last fall, Sturgis and her mother, with the help of the ACLU, fought to have the senior's photo included in the yearbook after school officials first rejected the photo.

"I was so furious when she told me about it," said Rodriguez. "Ceara started crying, and I told her to suck it up. Is that not pathetic for them to do that? Yet again, they have crapped on her and made her feel alienated."

According to the Jackson Free Press, "The ACLU wrote an October letter demanding officials use Sturgis' submitted photo in the yearbook, but Copiah County School District officials refused. Rodriguez said she expected the yearbook to at least contain a reference to her daughter on the senior page."

Sturgis, a popular and academically accomplished student, has attended Wesson Attendance Center for 12 years. "It's like she's nobody there," continued Rodriguez. "They mentioned none of her accolades, even though she's one of the smartest students there, with wonderful grades. They've got kids in the book that have even been busted for drugs. There's even a picture of one of the seniors who dropped out of school."

The Copiah County School District maintains that its decision not to run the photo is based on federal legal precedent.

The ACLU has not confirmed if it plans any legal action on the school's decision.

Rodriguez said she expected the district to attempt to downplay her daughter's presence, but not attempt to erase it entirely. She said the officials' position runs counter to the more accepting opinions of Sturgis' classmates.

"She basically grew up here, but she feels so isolated. And it's not the students. The students love and accept her," Rodriguez said. "The kids even nominated her for prom queen, but she ducked out, knowing that the officials would never let her be prom queen."

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