Another Mississippi High School Discriminates Against LGBT Student

photo: amanky

Copiah County School District in Mississippi cut senior Ceara Sturgis completely out of the Wesson Attendance Center 2010 class yearbook after the senior’s long battle with school officials to include a photo of her wearing a tuxedo. Ceara is lesbian, something that doesn’t bother her classmates:  Fellow students nominated her to be prom queen, though she declined because she was concerned about how the administration would react.

Despite student support, it’s clear the adults in the Copiah County School District have some problems with  Ceara. The class of 2010 yearbook contains not a single mention or picture of Ceara, despite her achievements and good grades. Ceara’s  name is not even listed.

Ceara and her mother  Veronica Rodriguez involved the Mississippi ACLU last year when officials decided not to allow Sturgis’ photo to appear in the senior yearbook because she chose to wear a tuxedo instead of a dress. In October, 2009 the ACLU wrote  letter demanding officials use Ceara’s submitted photo in the yearbook, but Copiah County School District officials refused.

Her mother told the Jackson Free Press:

It’s like she’s nobody there, even though she’s gone to school there for 12 years. 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 been busted for drugs. There’s even a picture of one of the seniors who dropped out of school. I don’t get it. Ceara is a top student. Why would they do this to her?

Ceara is a lesbian, she stood up for her rights, she involved the ACLU.  Mississippi school officials obviously don’t like these things, as we’ve seen from the Constance McMillen case.

17 Responses to "Another Mississippi High School Discriminates Against LGBT Student"
AZ Matt | Wednesday April 28, 2010 12:59 pm 1

Someone(s) should be fired. The girl should sue.

Teddy Partridge | Wednesday April 28, 2010 04:41 pm 2

This is outrageous — can you imagine the disappointment, the day yearbooks are distributed, and you can’t find yourself mentioned ANYWHERE in the entire goddam yearbook, no place to sign in your friends’ books, no place to reminisce years later, nowhere for your friends to find your name, your picture, anything.

These people are plain mean. Dirty stinking mean.

Twain | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:10 am 3
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 2

Narrow, tiny little minds. Totally lacking in knowledge of the larger world.

Teddy Partridge | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:29 am 4

“Yearbook, “the high school extracurricular activity, is run by students and only advised by a teacher. If a decision was made to disappear Ceara from her yearbook, was it made by students? From the same student body who wanted her to be Homecoming Queen? I think not.

As with Constance, this is another decision by adults, poorly advising their charges about how the world works in the 21st century. Who? When? How?


Twain | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:33 am 5
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 4

Teddy, one thing that people don’t get about the south is the isolation. They are perfectly content in their world. They rarely ever travel, wouldn’t dream of living in some other place, and cling to the old ways. I have to be very careful what I say when I go back there – not with my family but others.

Chris Dietrich | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:34 am 6

Ceara – wonderful little one! Your friends at school are with you and SO ARE WE.

I saw “Milk” again last night and was reminded that one of Harvey’s driving themes was “Hope for the young ones.” Hope.

That’s you Ceara, there you go!

Chris Dietrich | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:37 am 7

Lisa – thank you for keeping these stories right up in our faces.

Can you please provide an update on the May 8 Tupelo prom? What do we know?

fwdpost | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:39 am 8

And if she wanted to pose naked for her class picture, is that expression of free speech? How about dressed as a butterfly, a frog, or as Bill Maher? Somebody wake up – she just wants to be in the spotlight, and the hell with any rules in the school.
I suggest boys wear bikinis and girls go topless in all yearbooks. We can get Larry Flynt to sell them at newsstands with plain brown covers.
There is a huge oil spill drifting to engulf the Gulf states today and the media pays attention to this petty drivel?

Twain | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:41 am 9

I am so proud of these two young women. To do this openly in a small town when they know what’s going to happen is the bravest thing I can imagine. Hat’s off to them.

Teddy Partridge | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:47 am 10
In response to fwdpost @ 8

We have an incredibly vast, information-acute audience with diverse interests. And now, you — to provide editorial direction! Thank you!

Twain | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:49 am 11
In response to fwdpost @ 8

There are lots of big things going on but what is more important than the rights of just one person? When someone is discriminated against, we are complicit if we do nothing.

Teddy Partridge | Thursday April 29, 2010 09:51 am 12
In response to fwdpost @ 8

And by the way, the Gulf Coast States have hugely benefited from the energy industry their electeds protect at every turn. Did someone forget to ask them, while cashing their huge contribution and payroll checks, if they’d prepared for this obvious eventuality?

dakine01 | Thursday April 29, 2010 12:19 pm 13
In response to fwdpost @ 8

You must be new in these parts stranger or you would know that LaFiga covers exactly this type of story all the time.

But if you’re truly interested, there’s this place called The Seminal, just around the corner where a number of folks have written diaries on the oil spill, numerous of which have been cross posted to the front page of FDL

Tehanu | Thursday April 29, 2010 12:21 pm 14
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 2

I lived in Alabama for a year in the Fifties when I was nine years old. On my first day of school I told some kids that I was from California, whereupon they said I must be “one of those Yankee n–lovers.” I don’t remember what I said, but I vividly remember what I thought as I looked at their mean, vicious little faces: “What is wrong with these people?”

Margot | Thursday April 29, 2010 05:17 pm 15

“As you do to the least of these, so you do also unto me.”

lioness | Thursday April 29, 2010 08:01 pm 16
In response to Margot @ 15

You don’t get it. These people are so homophobic they think any rational person would kiss their feet and thank them for saving them from such a horrible fate. after all, they’re sure they would do that to someone who saved them from “unnatural homosexual urges”.

DonWilliams | Friday April 30, 2010 02:46 pm 17
In response to fwdpost @ 8

The bottom line on this issue is simple: Does the school have the right to set standards for things like proms and yearbooks.

If it does, then the kids have to follow the standards or be excluded.

If it does not, then proms and yearbooks will fall by the wayside. There will always be kids (like me when I was a kid) who will do the things that fwdpost listed and the school will have to get out of the prom and yearbook business (not that that’s a bad thing).

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