A senior at Alpharetta High School in suburban Atlanta filed a federal lawsuit against his school, alleging that administrators yanked him from his post as Student Body President when he lobbied to make the prom more gay inclusive.
Reuben Lack (photo) says faculty advisors twice interrupted meetings of the student council in January when he attempted to introduce and debate a resolution that would change the school’s “Prom King and Queen” tradition to a more gender neutral “Prom Court” so a same-sex couple could be elected.
After Lack complained to a friend in a private email in late January, faculty advisers Emily Reiser and Michelle Were met with Lack on Feb. 8 to tell him they were immediately removing him as Student Body President.
“Defendants’ actions serve to silence Lack, and have a chilling effect upon student expression in general,” according to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday. “By removing him as Student Body President, Defendants sought to punish Lack for advocating for his position on issues of student concern, and sought to restrain his ability to advocate for those positions in his elected capacity as Student Body President.”
An effort to meet with school administrators over Lack’s dismissal failed, so the lawsuit was filed against the faculty advisers, Principal Shannon Kersey and the Fulton County School District.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction to have Lack reinstated as Student Body President and that school administrators stop their interference with Lack’s position, and unspecified damages for the “intentional and outrageous nature of their actions.”
The lawsuit describes Lack as a successful student in academics and extracurricular activities with a 3.7 GPA. He also serves as captain of the school’s debate team, is a member of the Fulton County Youth Commission and has advocated for student issues before the school board and administration through his work with the Local School Advisory Committee. He was elected Student Body President in April 2011.
“The evidence will show that Reuben was punished for exercising his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” says James Radford, Lack’s attorney.
The school district has until mid April to file its response. School officials have declined to comment to media outlets about the lawsuit. Read the full text of Lack’s filing below.
Video via 11Alive