Mississippi high school erases lesbian student from yearbook

Ceara Sturgis with her motherMississippi high schools sure do seem to have a lesbian problem. First there was Constance McMillen, the student whose school first canceled their prom rather than let McMillen and her female date attend and then later sent McMillen to a fake prom.

And now there’s Ceara Sturgis, a student at Mississippi’s Wesson Attendance Center who was literally omitted from her senior yearbook’s portrait pages – her name didn’t even make it in – because of who she is.

When Veronica Rodriguez opened Wesson Attendance Center’s Yearbook on Friday, she didn’t see her lesbian daughter Ceara Sturgis pictured or named in the senior-portrait section of the yearbook. The latest blow came after a long battle with school officials to include a photo of her daughter wearing a tuxedo in the school’s 2010 yearbook.

…Sturgis and her mother commissioned the Mississippi ACLU to protest officials’ October 2009 decision not to allow Sturgis’ photo to appear in the senior yearbook because she chose to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress. The ACLU wrote an October letter demanding officials use Sturgis’ submitted photo in the yearbook, but Copiah County School District officials refused. Still, Rodriguez said she expected her daughter to at least be named on the senior page, perhaps with a “photo unavailable” box. What she discovered on Friday, when the yearbook came in, was that the school had refused to acknowledge her entirely on the senior pages.

So they literally erased her from the high school’s existence.  Incredible.  You know, it used to be that folks would chalk things like this up to “ignorance.”  But this isn’t ignorance, it’s hatred – and the malicious targeting of young people makes it especially disgusting.  You can find the school’s contact information here and all of the staff’s (including principal Ron Greer) email addresses here.

Related: Girl Gets Photo Removed from Yearbook for Wearing a Tux

Join the Conversation

  • Karmaberet

    I am home sick, so I called the school just now and the receptionist insisted that Ceara was in fact in the yearbook and demanded to know what news outlet had spread this falsehood. I found a Fox News Atlanta article on it and told her about it. She was like, “I’ll be sure to let them now that’s not true.” Apparently she’s “in” the yearbook – in that she’s in various other shots throughout the book like the other kids are – but her actual senior photo was excluded. Oh ok, that’s fine then, right? Um, no.

  • IAmGopherrr

    Fuck! This is just wrong! How is this even legal?

  • Comrade Kevin

    I remember when I was in high school, ten years back and a little bit more, that there were a few people in the student body who were openly out. But I don’t recall any of them attending the prom or even expressing a desire to do so.
    The good news is, as I understand it, where I went to school is now much more tolerant of LGBTs, not just for students but also for faculty. There have always been a large minority of public school teachers who do identify as queer, but until very recently if one was out, one was very quietly out. Part of this was due to the fact that I grew up in a suburban district outside of a medium sized city in the South and those were the societal norms upon which one had to adhere. But I still sympathize with situations like this one in smaller, more rural towns, where the old rules still apply.

  • Suffering Sappho

    I had trouble sending an email to the address given. Here is some contact info I got from another site. “Ronald Greer is WAC’s principal and you can email him at rdgreer@copiah.k12.ms.us. Oscar Hawkins is WAC’s high school principal and you can email him at ohawkins@copiah.k12.ms.us. The school’s phone number is (601) 643-2221. The school’s fax number is (601) 643-2458.”

  • Suffering Sappho

    I had trouble getting my email through with the information provided. Here’s some contact info I got from another site. “Ronald Greer is WAC’s principal and you can email him at rdgreer@copiah.k12.ms.us. Oscar Hawkins is WAC’s high school principal and you can email him at ohawkins@copiah.k12.ms.us. The school’s phone number is (601) 643-2221. The school’s fax number is (601) 643-2458.”

  • AMM

    Looking at the actual news story (note that it contains corrections):
    1. The issue here seems to have been how she was willing to be dressed, i.e., gender conformity, rather than her sexual orientation. It looks like everyone is confusing the two. Women who are unwilling to wear a dress are not necessarily lesbian, nor do lesbians necessarily prefer tuxes to dresses.
    2. I did not get any indication from the news article that the school had been giving the girl a hard time about being a lesbian. (It could have been either that they didn’t care about it or that they just preferred not to take notice of it.)
    It’s still pretty stupid and obnoxious; I thought that part of the point of yearbook photos was letting kids be photographed as they choose, so 30 years later they can be embarrassed by them.
    I also think that both sides are taking the yearbook (and high school in general) way too seriously. It’s like prison: when you’re in it, you can’t imagine live Outside, life is full of petty issues that seem like the end of the world, but once you get out (and get the prison/high school mentality out of your system), you realize how meaningless most of it was. You got out alive, that’s the important thing.

  • Dena

    I first heard of this story a coupe of months back and then it kind of up and disappeared until now.
    I don’t understand why these schools are harboring so much hatred. How the hell can you erase someone from a yearbook just because of how they choose to dress for that picture? So, as I understand she’s in other photos throughout the yearbook, but not in a senior photo?!? That’s mad fucked up. She needs to sue their asses.
    And is their anything in their school code that explicitly states that a female-bodied person cannot wear a tuxedo in a senior photo? Probably not.

  • banchara

    I respect your desire to bring this perspective, and I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree that this is about fashion. It is CLEARLY about the implications of a girl wearing a Tuxedo that might make it look like the high school had a GAY student. This is not even SUBTLE homophobia.
    2. I also think that excluding a person’s SENIOR PHOTO from the yearbook IS giving the girl a hard time. Whether her peers are or not, the SCHOOL is and THAT should not be happening in the “Land of the Free” where “all men are created equal”.
    3. It is a big deal because it is CLEAR discrimination. This sort of “petty” issue does NOT stop once you get out of High School, or once you move out of your home town, once you leave your state…come on! In our country you are supposed to be free to be who you are…not just survive the oppression of petty minds in life’s institutions like Education and the workplace.