CHAMPLIN, Minn. (WCCO) – A lesbian couple enrolled at the Anoka-Hennepin School District will be allowed to walk together in a high school procession.
Earlier this week, Desiree Shelton and her girlfriend Sarah Lindstrom were told they could not walk together in the Snow Days procession.
Without admission of fault or wrongdoing, the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Champlin Park High School worked together to come up with an agreement that will allow the two students, and any other same-sex couples, the opportunity to not be excluded from their high school procession.
“After today, I think that working with the school and creating these changes is really positive and really good for everyone,” said Shelton. “This is what we both have been hoping for. We both are looking forward to it.”
Shelton says when she was selected as a member of this year’s royalty court she never imagined she would be told her girlfriend could not walk with her during the procession.
“I didn’t think we were going to get turned down. I didn’t think it would be any problem. We had it arranged with two other boys, and when we were told we couldn’t do it we were extremely disappointed,” said Shelton.
That disappointment led to a lawsuit against the Anoka-Hennepin School District and Champlin Park High School. This afternoon both sides met at the Federal Court house in St. Paul. There they hammered out an agreement that gave both sides a victory.
“Now the plan is, instead of royalty being confined to choose a partner from within royalty, they can choose anyone any significant person in their life to be in the procession with them if they would like,” said Sam Wolfe, lead attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The school district says it views this arrangement as an opportunity for ongoing conversation about school events and activities and for consideration of other ideas that will make the school’s communities inclusive and would enable them to realize the district-wide objective of honoring all students.
“I hope it brings about a lot of changes, and not just our district but other districts that have problems with LGBT issues,” Shelton said.
She hopes this agreement is the catalyst for discussion that will lead to more LGBT students feeling comfortable with who they are, and feeling included in all school-related activities.
Snow Days is like homecoming for the basketball team and, according to Shelton, it is a big deal to many students.
Shelton says she hopes the district is serious about its stance that administrators, staff and all students, including LGBT students, will be involved in future conversations about being respectful and inclusive of all students.