A suburban Atlanta high school student says in a federal lawsuit that administrators removed him as student body president after he promoted changes aimed at making the prom more inclusive to gay students.
Reuben Lack, a senior at Alpharetta High School, filed the lawsuit this week in U.S. District Court in Atlanta. He's asking for an injunction reinstating him as student body president.
Lack said he introduced a resolution at a January student council meeting to modify the school's "prom king and queen" tradition to make it more inclusive to gay students. He suggested several options, including changing it to "prom court" so that a same-sex couple could be elected, he said in the lawsuit.
Lack says he was told by school officials Feb. 8 that he was immediately removed from his position for "pushing personal projects" and advocating policy changes.
The school system disputes Lack's allegations.
"The principal and teachers at Alpharetta High were very careful to take great care and be fair to all students involved when making the leadership change for this student body position," according to a statement from Fulton County Schools spokeswoman Samantha Evans.
"This student was relieved from his position because he failed to complete his responsibilities according to set bylaws, nothing more," it said. "We assure you that no one at Alpharetta High School has made any decision that would be considered biased or prejudiced."
Lack said he was called to a meeting, and led to believe it would be about meeting times and scheduling of student events and was then told he was being removed from his position. "I think the best way to describe it is an ambush," he said in an interview Friday.
Lack said he decided to make the prom proposal after seeing news stories about gay students across the country who felt excluded from school activities and had committed suicide in some cases.
"I felt the very least Alpharetta can do is include these students in even a small way and make them feel part of a school family," he told The Associated Press.
Lack's lawyer, James Radford Jr., said "the whole point of student government is that it's supposed to be an exercise or an education in democracy. This is completely undemocractic."
Lack, 18, is captain of the school's debate team, and his photo was featured prominently on the school's website Friday for a recent debate team accomplishment. He moderated a public debate in Alpharetta's recent mayoral race, and he's been honored by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for his advocacy on behalf of youth, the lawsuit states.
Radford said Lack tried to work with the school to find out why he was removed.
"But they've never given him a specific reason why he's been removed and why they're not willing to work with him to bring him back," Radford said.