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|Lawsuit not over for ousted Ga. student council prez who wanted gay-inclusive prom|
|by Ryan Watkins|
|April 24, 2012 11:24|
A federal judged ruled Monday against an Alpharetta High School student's claim that he was sacked from his student council position after introducing an LGBT-friendly prom resolution. While the decision means Reuben Lack won’t get his leadership role back, his father stressed that the lawsuit against the Fulton County School District isn’t over.
Reuben Lack, 18, claimed in a federal lawsuit filed in March that he was removed from his position as the school's student body president after introducing a resolution during a February student council meeting that would have made the school's annual prom more inclusive to LGBT students by removing the prom “king” and “queen” titles and replacing them with more gender-neutral titles.
The school district, however, responded by saying Lack's removal had nothing to do with the prom resolution, and claimed that he was removed for canceling and rescheduling student council meetings with little or no notice, acting uncivilly and refusing to comply with direct instructions from the student council faculty advisers.
During an April 23 injunction hearing, U.S. Judge Richard Story of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia agreed with the district, saying the school's representatives presented ample evidence that it would have made the decision to remove Lack regardless of the LGBT prom resolution.
Reuben's father, Nathaniel Lack, said today that his son was disappointed with the ruling.
“It's been done,” Nathaniel Lack told GA Voice. “He can't get his office back. He can't get his good name back. The only thing left is financial remuneration. That's wasn't supposed to be what this was about, but it's what they've turned it into.”
“It's a tough thing, we know Reuben's done the right thing,” Lack continued. “He knows that he could not sit on his hands when an injustice was done.”
Yesterday's hearing, according to Nathaniel Lack, was the last opportunity to have Reuben reinstated as the school's student body president before the end of the school year.
Lack added that his son’s lawsuit remains pending, although no dates have been set for depositions or a trial.
“The legal question, it doesn't matter how bad Reuben was in the past, if they weren't planning to remove him then, they can't use it now,” Lack said. “The issue that we had to prove here is that if wasn't for First Amendment violations, Reuben would not have been removed from his position.”
James Radford, Lack’s attorney, said his client will now weigh whether he wants to continue the lawsuit after being unable to win the injunction.
“Obviously, we're disappointed. I've been a determined advocate for his case. It's always disappointing to lose. A typical federal case like this from complaint to trial could be two years,” Radford said.
“Our decision has as much to do with the practical aspects of how long litigation can last. At some point you have to be pragmatic. He's very early in life, to a certain extent I could understand if he wanted to move on to the next chapter in life. He's got a bright future ahead of him,” he continued. “Even though the case didn't turn out how we wanted to, it's been valuable to encourage that conversation. We're very appreciative of the support in the community we've received.”
Top photo: Reuben Lack (center) pictured with his father Nathaniel Lack (left) and attorney James Radford (by Ryan Watkins)
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