Two students from Palmer High School, Colorado, say that they quit the yearbook staff, and two other members have since quit, after a school administrator demanded they remove a picture of two female students holding hands from the relationship page of the yearbook, this despite previous editions of the yearbook reportedly featuring much more overt shows of affection — only by straight couples.
“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.
“Regardless of any sort of situation inside the photograph. If theres too much PDA, it’s against policy. It’s going to get cut,” said Ashby.
The relationship page was then axed and replaced by a so-called diversity page, but that came with some heavy restrictions.
Students allege that the school administrator wanted “no names, only the labels,” saying that a child who identifies as Muslim would then have been labelled “Muslim.” This was to form a collage of students designed to show the diversity the school encourages.
There will be a collage of students in this year’s yearbook, but with no labeling.
Palmer High School was once the subject of an ACLU lawsuit after it denied children the right to form a Gay Straight Alliance, and then when challenged tried to create a two tier system to avoid giving the GSA full school resources or administrative backing. The school settled out of court and since the 2003 suit has made strides in promoting diversity.