Lesbian Students Enter Pep Rally To Cheers

CHAMPLIN, Minn. (AP) — Two lesbian high school students who fought for the right to walk together as part of a royalty court made their entrances Monday to the cheers of hundreds of classmates.

Sarah Lindstrom and Desiree Shelton wore matching black suits with pink ties and held hands as they entered the Snow Days Pep Fest at Champlin Park High School in Minneapolis’ northwest suburbs.

The reaction came as a relief to the couple and school administrators. The district has been stung by criticism of its policies toward homosexuality and the alleged bullying of a gay student who killed himself.

“It felt amazing,” said Shelton, adding that she was too nervous to notice dozens rise to give her a standing ovation as she walked in with Lindstrom. “I think we were too focused on getting to the stage.”

If there were any boos, they were drowned about by supporters. “I feel so much better,” Lindstrom said while surrounded by friends after the rally.

Sarah’s mother, Shannon Lindstrom, camera in hand, joined the other mothers of children in the royalty court after the rally.

“They had a lot of courage,” she said Shelton and her daughter. “Look how far we’ve come.”

Students voted onto the royalty court traditionally enter the assembly in boy-girl pairs. After Lindstrom and Shelton, both 18, were elected, school officials last week announced a change in procedure: court members would walk in individually or accompanied by a parent or favorite teacher.

School officials said they merely wanted to prevent the two from being teased. But on Friday, two human rights groups sued on their behalf.

On Saturday, in federally mediated talks, school officials relented. The two sides agreed that members of the royalty court would be escorted by anyone meaningful to them, regardless of gender or age.

“This is a new chapter for the district,” said Sam Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which filed the lawsuit along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and local assistance from the Minneapolis law firm of Faegre and Benson.

Young women in evening gowns and young men in dark suits walked through a makeshift arch and to the stage during the Monday afternoon pep rally complete with cheerleaders, dance teams and the school band. So did two young women in suits, and the crowd cheered for each one.

“They did great,” said Principal Mike George. “I’m proud of our students.”

Several of the students in the crowd didn’t understand what all the fuss over the lesbian couple.

“Some people are against it, but they don’t care if they walk down a stupid runway,” said Maggie Hesaliman, 14.

Melissa Biellefe, 16, said, “We’re a pretty respectful school. Our rule is just let people be who they are.”

Champlin Park is part of the Anoka-Hennepin school district, Minnesota’s largest, which has been in the spotlight in the past year for its handling of issues involving gay and lesbian students.

It has been in the crossfire for its policy of “neutrality” in classroom discussions of homosexuality. It was reached in 2009 as a way to balance the demands of liberal and conservative families, but neither side has been completely happy with it.

The issues flared again last year after a gay student, Justin Aaberg, killed himself. His mother has said she heard too late from Justin’s friends that he had been harassed.

Aaberg was one of six students who committed suicide in the district since the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, and advocacy groups have linked some of the other deaths to the bullying of gay students.

However, the district said last month its own investigation did not find evidence that bullying contributed to the students’ deaths.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Bob


  • PW

    The bigots made this a news story NOT the gay teens!

    • MPLSLibgirl

      You are 100% correct.

    • CCF

      I don’t understand why these girls get preferential treatment? It is a tradition to walk in boy girl, and regardless of significant other, it is also a tradition for that to be randomized… The girls made it a big deal, no one else. They wanted the spotlight and they wanted to make an example out of Champlin. I guess it worked, and now whoever opposes this based on tradition, or comfort of everyone else is considered ignorant, intolerant, and a bigot.

      • Elwinthro

        Grow up! Who made traditions? Look at the past and what “traditions” have done to people and how they are changed for the better in all of these situations. There was a time when it was against “tradition” to have black and Hispanic students in schools. This is a GREAT change just like those were.

  • tiredandretired

    To “Christ”: You can say “God” in school. Kids say it every morning when they say the Pledge of Allegiance. Quit believing all of that Fox News propaganda.

    • debbie

      umm i dont know where you’re from bbut here in saint paul pledge of allegiance isn’t said anymore!

      • Paul Solinger

        In most school districts, it is.

      • know your facts

        I graduated in 2007 from a public school. Once a week we said the Pledge of Allegiance. Kids who did not want to participate did not have to. They could come to school 5 minutes late or just sit while everyone stood.

    • Snowyriver

      Debbie is correct. Outside of parochial schools, I don’t believe there is a public school where this is upheld any longer. Maybe you need to watch Fox so you can be current in your depth of knowledge.

      • Allah

        He is too busy forcing gays down his throat…I mean down our throats….

      • tiredandretired

        Maybe you need to spend some time in your local public schools, so you have accurate information about what goes on there.

      • Mariya

        actually, i go to champlin park and we say the pledge every monday thanks . maybe you need to get your facts straight….

      • John J

        Public schools can still say the pledge. I am part of a state Minnesota Association of School Administrators and assure you there is nothing wrong with saying it and some schools do still do it. With that said, if a student does not want to participate so be it. Furthermore there have been several US Court of Appeals in the past two years who have upheld the use of “under God” in the pledge.

      • Cphskid

        To snowy river I go to Champlin park HS and we do say the pledge every Monday. It is hard to believe that a school would not say the pledge. I mean we live in America and the school is more or less part of the government. So we say the pledge it is that simple. It is sad the lack of pride people have these days.

  • Jake

    How about a sheep? Could I be escorted by a sheep? Hey . . . stop judging me!

    • Snowyriver

      Wrong on so many levels man.

      • Snowyriver

        I mean to all of this liberal content. This sheep deal is funny. I’m an evolutionist and speaking as one, it still doesn’t work. 2 species cannot procreate. Thankfully.

      • anonymous

        A woman and woman can’t procreate either, so you are a moron. I am very glad they were allowed to walk together so that who they love does not determine their eligibility.

    • tiredandretired

      You’re so baaaaaaaaaaaad! lol

  • PW

    And stop forcing your religion down our throats!

  • debbie

    AGREED!!! I think taking gor out of every aspect of life is the reason society has become so crazy and has no morals or values anymore

    • Maddow

      No one is taking God out of anything. You can believe in any supernatural being you want. But teaching it to EVERYONE is not legal, per thee Constitution. This story involves real rights for real people. Not a belief system.

    • lib

      “We repudiate all morality that proceeds from supernatural ideas that are outside class conceptions. Morality is entirely subordinate to the interests of class war. Everything is moral that is necessary for the annihilation of the old exploitig social order” Lenin Just in case you wonder where these folks are coming from

  • Mike

    What religion? Does it forbid it or forbide it? Should I use as many question marks as you use exclamation points? Should one go back to school if they can’t spell it? If my religion forbids dumb posts, can I ask that yours be removed to respect my religious freedom?

  • Mike

    And “Christ” – you are obviously no Christian taking the Lord’s name in vain to start your post.

  • chris

    Yes, in fact, you are. Just because your comment starts with “Im not a biggot” doesn’t take away the fact that you are judging someone (which your religion also forbades – see Matthew 7:7) You can always try this approach when commenting in the future: “I know I am a hippocrate, but…”

    • :)

      I love when people try to say things about religion and others can prove them wrong!! Great comment Chris!!

  • Solo

    High school kids have no idea WHAT they are at the age of 17. Some are Goth, some are punk, some are preppy. It’s quite likely these girls will decide they are not lesbians after all when they mature into ‘old’ 20 somethings.

    • Tyler

      What?! Are you nuts. Ask any gay person and you will realize your statement is grossly inaccurate.

    • Paul Solinger

      When you were 17, did you know what your sexual orientation was? Most kids do.

  • TS

    Take the entire popularity contest… i mean… royalty court away. Problem solved.

    • tiredandretired

      I agree. It serves no useful purpose, other than to make the majority of the student body feel devalued.

  • lonesomedrifter

    Don’t worry. Next you’ll be forced into Sharia law.

  • tiredandretired

    I don’t know where all of you are from and I’m choosing to keep my location private, but I know for a fact that all districts near me still say the Pledge every morning. That’s because I’ve witnessed it myself. The question I have is whether you have actually witnessed that your district does not do this any more, or you have just heard rumors. If your reports are accurate, then someone has made a decision that the law does not require.

  • ATeacher

    The sad thing is that this relationship will not last.

    • chris

      You can’t be suggesting that straight marriages offer any sort of positive example of relationships that last. If marriages are so sacred in the straight world, why isn’t divorce illegal?

    • TS

      Relationships and sexual preference should have no place in high schools. The majority of my friends who were married out of high school are divorced.

      • chris

        Being gay isn’t a preference any more than having blue eyes is a preference. Funny how straight people feel the need to be experts on what gay is.

      • TS

        Sexual orientation. There. Funny you assume I’m straight.

      • chris

        Thank you for the correction. Now you at least don’t sound straight.

    • tiredandretired

      Most high school relationships don’t. Why should we expect this one to be any different? Isn’t dating part of our journey to adulthood and finding out the type of person we want to be with? I don’t advocate homosexuality, but things are what they are. Take sexual orientation out of the equation for a moment and analyze this relationship through a clearer lens.

  • beinformed

    The Pledge of Allegiance is said every Monday morning in Anoka-Hennepin middle schools.

  • Victim Du Jour

    Schools are not suppose to be promoting high risk sexual behavior.

    According to statistics, the gay community is still having issues with STD’s.

    20/20 did a story about a 6 year old being accused of sexual harassment. And 12 year old boys being charged for felony sex offenses.

    At least these lesbians aren’t being treated like criminals.

    • tiredandretired

      Treating them like human beings is a far cry from promoting high risk sexual behavior. In fact, the school is not promoting ANY sexual behavior.

  • Pam

    The Pledge of Allegiance is said every morning at Rippleside Elementary School in Aitkin. My 2nd grader is pretty good at it.

  • Victim Du Jour

    20/20 did a Story about a 6 year old being accused of sexual harassment by a school teacher, and 11 and 12 year olds being charged felony sex offenses.

    At least these girls aren’t being charged with a crime like heterosexual students.

    • max

      Ohhh. You’re really reaching with that argument. Not surprising, though, considering that there really are no valid arguments against these girls walking together.

      • Victim Du Jour

        I don’t think it should have been an issue at all if the Students elected both girls.

        Now these young women will have the false impression their sexuality is a bigger deal than it really is.

        And now stupid people will think public schools are a political battleground.

  • Laura

    Both are sexy & cute. So I’m all for it!

    • lib

      You’re kidding right? Talk about looking like they need a shower and a hair cut.

      • mariya

        hahah i agree , but i think that hair is already to short lol .

  • Momof3

    You need to watch to movie “Prayers for Bobbie”. Maybe you will see what this way of thinking does to people. I am very religious but I believe got loves all. “Let those without sin cast the first stone!!” This is how I live my life.

  • Debbi

    No one is asking you to become gay…no one is forcing anything down your throat! These two girls are simply asking for what EVERYONE else expects…to be allowed to be themselves. Seriously, get a life and let the rest of the world live theirs!

  • insignificant

    Miss Lindstrom and Miss Shelton must have two very proud daddy’s,eh?…No worry about future grandkids…Seems abit odd how they “fought” to walk together against tradition of the school …would it have killed ’em to walk with a boy or what?…talk about discriminating….sheesh…little dirty attention seekers

    • Joseph

      You know I know these girls personally and can without a doubt say that their intent was NOT to seek attention. There intent was more to get away from it! I know, I helped them dodge the press today

  • Pat

    Yes, you are a bigot.

  • Katie

    These lovely young women have far more class, maturity, dignity and intelligence than any of you people. You go, girls! Fight for what you believe in – stand up for injustice – and be happy with who you are. Here is living proof that youth can change the world – and for the better! I am proud of these two – and the school district – for doing the right thing. If only the rest of the world could settle their differences as respectfully (I think?) as this situation was handled. Sure, it went to the courts … but there were no bombings, shootings, hangings, lynchings, spitting, fist-fights, etc. Those who don’t agree with the decision have the right to disagree and express their opinions. But please remember that these young women are not just the gay teens who walked together at a pepfest. They are daughters, sisters, granddaughters, nieces, friends, etc. I wish you could walk a mile in their shoes – or at least in their loved ones’ shoes – so you would know their struggle and heartache. Perhaps then – and only then – would you withhold your ignorant hatred.

    • lib

      You do realize that the only thing “special” about these two women is they do “it” differently than the norm?

      • tiredandretired

        The only ones who honestly believe that are people who don’t know them. We all have our own unique and special qualities. A news story that focuses on one aspect of a person’s life will never be able to reveal all of the wonderful qualities possessed by any one person, regardless of their sexual orientation.

      • you are a sick person!!!

        That was completely uncalled for! These 2 young women could be virgins for all you know! They fought for what they believed is right. They should get huge amount of respect for doing so! Suicide rate has increased tremendously because people don’t feel loved or wanted. No one should EVER feel that way!!!

    • tiredandretired

      Unfortunately, anonymous discussion brings out the cowardly haters. Read more of these discussion boards and you will see that people hate on each other for all kinds of reasons. Advocate for teachers or (legal) immigrants on here some time and see what happens.

      • Bruce

        It also brings out moron liberals like yourself. You know the ones that attack and call names, if you dont agree. You liberals have ruined this fine state. We are now #2 in immigration (CA is #1…working well there), Minneapolis is rated the #1 Gay city in the country now. It is also rated the #1 polluted city. Go figure. I am no hater, I just dont have my head in the sand. I do not believe in gay anything. I do not agree with you so get over it. And I am no coward…I am 6’4″ and 250 lbs of American. You know a real American, one of those few born here and paying to be here. Now put your sippy cup down and go watch child porn on MTV.

      • Nate

        Bruce–I got a great chuckle out of your post, specifically the comment about belng the “#1 polluted city.” First of all, the study said we were among the highest but not number 1. Secondly, it was high as a polluter not as being the most polluted. Thirdly, it was focused specifically on per capita carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas) emissions and nothing else. Fourth, there are plenty of other very recent pollution studies that rank Minneapolis very highly as being unpolluted using other factors. And the fifth is my favorite part of my rebuttal to your comments, especially about liberals. One of the reasons cited for the higher carbon dioxide emissions was that Minneapolis lacked good public transportation. Pretty sure that is NOT the liberals fault!!!

  • Jelyoh

    My kids live in the St. Paul area and they say God in the Pledge . . . . so, yes, the Pledge and the word God IS used in some public schools. I really don’t see the big deal about these girls walking together as a couple. Happy to see a school progressive enough to see past sexuality and see people for who they really are . . . just people. Thank you younger generations . . . you ARE our future and your ideas and beliefs WILL be the norm.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Thursday Night Football

Listen Live