TEXAS – A Texas teenager says she’s taking a stand after her high school allegedly blocked a photo of her and her girlfriend from appearing in the yearbook because they are gay.
“It hurts,” Felicia Rivera told the Daily News. “It really got to me.”
Rivera, 16, has drawn up a petition with nearly 300 signatures in response to the alleged discrimination, which reportedly arose after a teacher at Brennan High School in San Antonio realized that the image showed Rivera cuddling with her girlfriend, Lialani Hernandez.
“The teacher was perfectly fine with the picture until she found out it was two girls,” the teen said. “It’s not right.”
The photo was supposed to run on a Valentine’s Day page in the yearbook, according to KEN 5. Rivera said that the teacher first told her the picture was being pulled because it showed a gay couple.
Rivera said the principal later denied that explanation and said the image was yanked because the picture showed “too much PDA.”
“I saw the page, and there are other PDA images that didn’t get pulled,” Felicia told The News. “There was a guy’s arm around a girl’s shoulder. Other people were holding hands.”
A spokesperson for Northside ISD, which represents Brennan High School, says the picture was removed from the page because it violated the district’s policy regarding public displays of affection.
“It’s just an intimate picture; there’s no eye contact. They’re both looking down. It looks like a pretty intimate moment,” Pascual Gonzalez told the San Antonio Express- News.
Gonzalez said that Felicia and her girlfriend’s sexual orientation did not play a role in the decision.
“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,” he said. “It’s important to know that the students are safe at Brennan High School.”
Rivera’s father, Felix Rivera, said he stands behind his daughter and has been impressed by her reaction to the incident.
“My daughter has never had a problem,” he told The News. “She’s a real strong person.”
He said he has asked the school’s principal if the yearbook would include a picture of Felicia and her girlfriend that shows them looking directly at the camera. He has not yet heard back.
Felicia, on the other hand, said she is no longer worried about having the image in the yearbook.
“I could really care less now if the photo is in there,” Felicia said. “It’s just the reason they pulled it that upsets me.”
from The New York Daily News