Queer Voices

Felicia Rivera, Lesbian Teen, Claims Yearbook Discrimination After Photo With Girlfriend Pulled (VIDEO)

A pair of lesbian teenagers in Texas have alleged their high school's yearbook staff is discriminating against them because they are gay.

Sixteen-year-old Felicia Rivera said yearbook staff at Brennan High School decided to take out a picture that would have showed Rivera cuddling with her girlfriend Lialani Hernandez, 17, when they realized both teens were girls, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

Rivera said a classmate tipped her off to the alleged discrimination, according to the site. The picture would have been run on the yearbook's Valentine's Day page.

"You shouldn't be discriminated against just because you're gay," Rivera told KENS 5. "You shouldn't worry about people bashing you or talking behind your back just for you to be you."

Meanwhile, Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez denied Rivera's sexual identity had anything to do with the decision, telling the Express-News that the snapshot violated school rules on public displays of affection.

"The Northside School District prides itself on providing the most high quality education for all students, and we welcome all students, as well as a safe and welcome environment," Gonzalez said. "It's important to know that the students are safe at Brennan High School."

The teen's father, Felix Rivera, says that's just not true.

"They were fine with it until they realized it was girl-girl," Felix Rivera told KENS 5. "It got placed, it got set and it was going to print and then it got pulled."

Felicia Rivera has since started a petition to get the picture put back on the Valentine's Day yearbook page.

In a similar instance in March 2012, students in Colorado accused their yearbook faculty adviser of cutting a picture of two lesbians holding hands because they were gay.

Rudolpho Tribulio and Anna Carmichael, both students at Palmer High in Colorado Springs, said they were kicked off the yearbook staff after protesting the decision, according to KRDO. School district spokesman Devra Ashby disagreed, however, claiming that the display of affection and not sexual identity was the problem.

The issue of what you can wear, or who you can cuddle with, in yearbook photos has been a source of controversy for a while.

Back in 2009, a lesbian student in Mississippi forced a change in yearbook senior portrait attire after she was left out of the yearbook for wearing a tuxedo instead of the more traditional drape.

The ACLU backed Ceara Sturgis's case, and eventually the district decided to require everyone to wear gowns in senior portraits.

Meanwhile, in January school officials in Wyoming reversed themselves, deciding to allow an openly gay senior to use a picture of himself holding a gay pride flag as his senior picture.

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