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Lesbian Teens Elected H.S. Royalty, Shake Up Pep Fest Plans

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By Rachel Slavik, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Minnesota’s largest school district may have to fight a discrimination lawsuit over a high school winter pep fest. According to the suit, classmates at Champlin Park High School nominated two lesbian students, Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom, to the Snow Daze court.

Anoka-Hennepin schools spokeswoman Mary Olson says traditionally the royal court walks into the assembly as male-female couples, but the lesbian couple said they weren’t comfortable with that.

Friday afternoon, Champlin Park school leaders said they canceled this year’s procession, ending a tradition of allowing pairs to walk across the coronation stage.

“The feeling was that this would be more respectful of all students,” said Mary Olson, Anoka-Hennepin’s media director.

The decision was made after a lesbian couple asked to be partnered up during that procession, forcing two straight male students to walk together. Now, gay rights groups and non-profit organizations are stepping in.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and motion to ensure the event goes on as it has in the past.

Sisters Ashtin and Erin Carter may be ready for this year’s coronation, but you could say they are no longer looking forward to it.

“The only reason I really wanted to be royalty was so I could walk across the stage and have everybody go like, ‘Yay Ashtin,'” said Ashtin Carter, a senior at CPHS.

“I’m mad, cause I want to walk,” said Erin Carter, a junior at CPHS.

“For them to cancel procession, I don’t think that’s the right answer either … and taking the easy way out,” said Teresa Barnes, mother of both Ashtin and Erin Carter, who are both on the Snow Daze court.

Barnes said she doesn’t believe it’s a gay rights issue, considering the events the girls can attend together during Snow Daze week.

“They are still allowed to go to the dance together as a couple. They can be photographed together as a couple,” said Barnes.

The issue has made Snow Daze 2011 one to remember at Champlin Park High. Coronation could now be in the hands of the court system.

Recently, some advocacy groups have linked the district’s policies for homosexual students to bullying and suicides, but the district’s own investigation found the six suicide victims were not bullied.

Coronation is scheduled for Monday, that’s when a judge should make a decision, too.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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