News

SPLC Salutes Students Standing Up For Their Rights

As the school year draws to a close, the SPLC salutes just a few of the students this year who fought the good fight, challenging homophobia and gender discrimination in their schools. If it’s true that young people are our future, the future is looking pretty diverse, free and fabulous. We hope you are as inspired to read about them as we at the SPLC have been to work with them. 

As the school year draws to a close, the SPLC salutes just a few of the students this year who fought the good fight, challenging homophobia and gender discrimination in their schools. If it’s true that young people are our future, the future is looking pretty diverse, free and fabulous. We hope you are as inspired to read about them as we at the SPLC have been to work with them.   

Kiera and Shay, Davidson High School, Mobile, Ala. 
JROTC: Do ask, do tell
For JROTC cadets, the annual military ball is the highlight of the year – very much like the prom but with a heavy dose of military tradition and etiquette. Like any good cadet, Kiera, a graduating senior, went up her chain of command for permission to bring her girlfriend, Shay, who wanted to wear a tuxedo.


Anoka-Hennepin students


Sara Couvillon, a sophomore at Hoover High School in Hoover, Ala., was told by school officials in August that she could not wear a T-shirt that displayed the slogan “Gay? Fine by me.”


School officials forced Alabama high school student Elizabeth Garrett to remove her sweatshirt that includes an expression of acceptance of gay people.


Hunter Mahaffey

Hunter Mahaffey, Hueytown High School, Birmingham, Ala.
Studly behavior
One Friday after school, junior Hunter Mahaffey went to the mall to get his ears pierced and fitted with small, metal stud earrings. He didn't think it would be a big deal; after all, plenty of students at school wear jewelry. That Monday, though, school officials ordered him to take out the studs, citing a policy that says only girls can wear earrings. To Hunter, the rule sounded as silly – and as discriminatory – as mandating that only girls could wear the color pink. On Hunter's behalf, we explained that the school's policy reflects unlawful sex stereotyping about males and females and that we will file a lawsuit unless the district changes its policy. The district has until June 15 to respond.


Isabella Nuzzo

Curious about your rights at school? Find out more here.

Christine P. Sun is deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.