UPDATED: At West Texas High School, One Student Pushes Against Principal to Bring Discussion of Gay Rights to Campus
Updated with comments from Sundown Superintendent Mike Motheral and Murray Lipp, who runs Gay Marriage USA's Facebook site.
On Wednesday morning, an eighth grader at Sundown Middle School approached Morgan Sisk, a senior at Sundown's high school. The 1,400-strong town, located just west of Lubbock, is small enough that the students of all ages pass by one another with regularity, so it wasn't an entire surprise when the tween struck up a conversation with Sisk.
However, this eighth-grader wasn't looking for any form of educational advice. Rather, she wanted to share a bit of thanks, with a personal twist.
"This eighth-grader came up to me and she was like, 'I completely agree with what you're doing,'" Sisk told Hair Balls. "Then she said, 'The principal told me I should probably not let anybody at school know I'm bisexual.'...I've heard some instances of stuff like that before, where they tell people they should probably just save that stuff when you're not at school."
Stuff. Their sexuality. Their identity. As ingrained in them as their height or hair color. Something, according to Sisk, that the administration has encouraged remain hidden while students are on school grounds.
And Sisk should know. The senior, who will be pursuing history at the University of North Texas this fall, was recently named 'Most Political' as one of the senior superlatives. For the attendant photo in the yearbook, Sisk had the notion of an image in which she debates a fellow student about a topical political issue. Sorting through the magazines at the library, Sisk came across the now-famous image TIME used but a few weeks ago to illustrate just how far gay marriage had come.
Sisk posed in front of the camera, ready to pose. And then the students behind the lens said that they wouldn't take the photo. Find any other magazine, they said. Find any other cover. But we're not taking a shot with those two women -- with that wife and wife -- for Sundown High School's 2012-2013 yearbook.
"They said, 'I refuse to take your picture if you're going to have that magazine,' and I was like, 'Well, you're just taking the photo, and it's kind of my choice for the photo,'" Sisk said. "I said we should go talk to the yearbook teacher, see what she thinks, and she said she thought it was fine. But then the kid was like, 'I'm going to tell the principal.'"
And so, they approached the principal. Sisk didn't want to share his name with Hair Balls, but according to Sundown's site, the man charged with running the high school is Brent Evans, who didn't respond to Hair Balls' phone calls.
"So we went and asked him, and he basically told me gay rights is not a topic that we need to be discussing at school," Sisk continued. "He basically just told me flat-out, 'No.'"