Harassment Follows Naming of Lesbian Homecoming King and Queen

When a lesbian couple at a San Diego high school were recently named homecoming king and queen, it was the culmination of an abundance of support. That spirit of acceptance was marred, though, when the school began receiving hate-filled calls and emails. Yet tolerance for homosexuality may be spreading as more schools are showing support for, and not bullying, their historically marginalized students.

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A Milestone in Tolerance

This fall, students at San Diego's Patrick Henry High School named Rebeca Arellano the school's homecoming king at a boisterous pep rally. The students chanted her name in a heartening show of support for the girl. Haileigh Adams, Rebeca's girlfriend, was named homecoming queen at the dance the next night.

While they hadn't initially intended to run, the couple had been showered with support from their families, their fellow students and many teachers. For example, a teacher noted to Rebeca that the girls were a positive influence on the school. A student told the press that the girls were role models, making life easier and safer for other students who might be fearful of being open about their sexual orientation. The naming of the couple as homecoming king and queen, a first at the school, only furthered the accolades showered upon the girls.

Bigotry Still Exists

Despite the plethora of support Rebeca and Haileigh received, not all members of the surrounding community have responded with acceptance. Immediately following the announcement of the girls being named homecoming king and queen, an event that garnered news coverage throughout Southern California, bigotry reared its ugly head. Bill Kowba, the superintendent of San Diego schools, reported that Patrick Henry High School received emails and calls from adults criticizing the selection of Rebeca and Haileigh.

While the details of the hateful messages were not revealed, Kowba noted the lack of tolerance and poor role modeling exhibited by the callers and writers. Furthermore, he said that the disparaging messages presented an unwelcome and unnecessary distraction the school had to deal with, which disrupted the school's primary mission of educating students. Kowba chastised those he labeled as bullies for their disappointing reaction.

A Shifting Tide

While the homecoming announcement at this San Diego school wasn't universally accepted by the community, the fact that it occurred at all represents a significant milestone. It's also not the only such story. Last spring, Chicago's Columbia College named Francis Shervinski as its homecoming queen. The openly gay freshman used the honor as a chance to speak out for the rights of others in the LGBT community.

In similar news, Mariah Slick, a girl with Down syndrome, was named homecoming queen at Azle High School in Texas. Students who have been the subject of bullying and intolerance are starting to find more welcoming communities. While the hate that has kept such students on the margins is still present, it may be a relic sustained with decreasing vigor by younger generations.

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