High School Yearbook Advisor: “Cut the gay couple or I cut the page”

For almost a week, I’ve been censoring pictures famous images of straight couples kissing. It all started when Peter LaBarbera censored two totally innocent pictures of gay military couples, but like I said in the inaugural post, he’s far from the only one trying desperately to keep LGBT people invisible.

Want more proof that this is a problem? Here’s a story that just came in from Palmer High School in Colorado Springs, CO, where a picture of a lesbian couple holding hands has been removed from the yearbook.

“She told me to in these exact words, you either cut the gay couple or I cut the page.” said former Palmer High School Yearbook Staff Member Rudolpho “Coco” Tribulio.

Tribulio and Anna Carmicheal say their yearbook advisor told them that a lesbian couple holding hands could not be on a page they were creating about high school relationships.A School District 11 spokesperson says there is another reason.

“When the photos came back from that page there was too much PDA and that is against Palmer policy,” said District 11 Public Information Officer Devra Ashby. If you look at pictures from last year’s yearbook, however, you can see several forms of public displays of affection.

Golly, you guys, the school didn’t really have a choice. They were just following policy [for the first time because it was gay kids and not straight kids]. See? No choice at all.

The story at Palmer High is sadly not the first time this kind of thing has happened. Recall this story from May 2011, in which Florida principal Karlton Johnson of Blanch Ely High School threatened to suspend a lesbian couple if they were caught holding hands. Then he outed them to their parents.

There's nothing wrong with you, kids. I promise.
There's nothing wrong with you, kids. I promise.

I know, I know. “Public displays of affection” are against policy. They said the same thing when I was in high school. There’s a difference, though, between how school employees react to straight kids showing affection and how they react to gay kids showing affection. For straight kids, it’s a cluck of the tongue followed by a monthly school dance where displaying affection is not just accepted, but celebrated, with cameras clicking for full school newspaper and yearbook coverage. When gay kids do it, they’re met with a shaming and removal of any evidence that gay people can have affection for each other.

We exist. It’s important for all teenagers that society acknowledge that we exist, and it’s even more important for LGBT teenagers to be free from shaming because of their existence.