An Alabama high school graduate turned up for her end-of-year photo session, but she was shocked when her Springville High yearbook came back this month without her photo included.
Holley Gerelds chose to wear a tuxedo that day, as opposed to the traditional black drape female students typically wear.
But when yearbooks were delivered last week, she found out her head shot — which she paid US$25 for — was replaced by a black box and the words “Not Pictured: Holley Geralds.” They’d even misspelled her name.
She shared a photo of it on Twitter, writing: “I took my senior portraits wearing a tux instead of a drape. Guess who wasn’t pictured lol.”
The 18-year-old also tagged @happyhippiefdn, an organization that helps rally young people in the face of homelessness and inequality.
She further responded to her own tweet, writing: “I would like to add that I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble or sent hate. I’m just upset that I didn’t get put into MY senior yearbook because I’m a lesbian who wanted to wear a tux instead of a drape. I paid for my pictures just like everyone else.”
“I hate to say it, but I’m used to it. I saw it coming,” she told WMTM 13, adding that when she first saw the page, she “just laughed.”
Gerelds says she asked the photographer if what she was wearing was appropriate before the photo shoot.
“I said, ‘Can I please wear the tux, that’s what I’m more comfortable in,'” she said. “I feel like if I was to wear the drape, it’s not me and kind of humiliating.”
The principal of the school has since apologized, and the St. Clair County Superintendent, Mike Howard, said the yearbook page will be reprinted.
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Howard responded to Gerelds’ case in a statement on Aug. 16.
“I understand that the senior portraits taken at Springville High School during the last school year were taken in accordance with long-standing school guidelines. We are in the process of reevaluating those guidelines to consider what changes, if any, need to be made,” he wrote.
He continued: “I can confirm that the composite photograph of the Springville High School Class of 2019 will include all students that participated in the senior portrait process, regardless of their choice of attire. In addition, we are reprinting a page of Springville High School’s recent yearbook to correct the misspelling of a student’s name and to include all students, regardless of their choice of attire.”
But to Gerelds, she did nothing wrong, and she hopes her actions will inspire the next person who just wants to be themselves.
“ that there’s another girl just like me that wants to wear a tux, and gets to wear a tux,” she said. “I’m going to move past it, I’ll be fine. If it makes you happy then do it.
“Life is hard enough. Do what makes you happy.”
—With files from AP.Follow @meaghanwray
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