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Saturday, January 29, 2011

UPDATE - Lesbian couple will walk in Champlin Park processional after lawsuit dismissed

Desiree (Dez) Shelton and her partner are students at
Champlin High School who would like to participate
in the Sno Days pep-fest and coronation as a same-sex
couple during an assembly.
A lesbian couple who sued Friday for their right to walk as a couple into a Monday pep fest at Champlin Park High School will be allowed to do so, according to a settlement hammered out Saturday.
In exchange, the lawsuit filed on behalf of seniors Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom will be dismissed, according to a joint statement released by both sides.
"All parties are pleased to announce that we have worked together, collaboratively, to arrive at an arrangement for introductions of elected royalty that is respectful and inclusive of all students," said the statement, which revealed the new arrangement to allow each member in the 24-person royalty court to "select a meaningful person in their life" to escort them in the coronation procession at Monday's Pep Fest and winter formal dance. The new plan will allow Shelton and Lindstrom to walk together.
The school's decision to change its tradition of having the students walk in as couples in favor of having them accompanied by an adult sparked the federal lawsuit filed Friday on the teens' behalf by representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Faegre & Benson law firm. The lawsuit accused the Anoka-Hennepin district of discriminating against gay and lesbian students and requested a restraining order against the school's decision as well as damages.
School district officials had maintained that their decision was made to stress that students should be honored as individuals -- not by sexual preference.
The lawsuit, which was "amicably" dismissed, according to both sides, now will be viewed as an opportunity for the school to consider its policy regarding activities "that will make our school communities inclusive and will enable us to realize the district-wide objective of honoring all students," according to the statement.


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