Del City High Students Say Discrimination Keeping Them From Graduation
Rusty Surette, News 9
DEL CITY, Oklahoma -- It's no secret that Oklahomans don't give up easily. That's why some high school students in Del City are refusing to give up on graduation, even though they say the school district's own administration is trying to stop them.
Kelsey Hicks, 17, wants to be a firefighter after she graduates high school, but that's the biggest challenge she's facing right now. Hicks transferred to night school last month but she's ready to return to Del City High School. The principal, she said, won't allow it.
Hicks admits she's been in trouble in the past with school leaders, however she feels the administration is harsher on her because of her lifestyle.
"The principal will say 'Well, you're gay. You're not going to do anything with your life. You might as well just drop out now,'" said Hicks.
Hicks and her friends are open about their sexuality at school and all share similar stories about the principal.
"I can't graduate now, because I can't go back to school," said Melissa McKenzie.
The 18-year-old said she was kicked out of Del City High in August after school leaders learned she was living with her girlfriend.
"My principal told me if I move back home with my mom I can return back to school," said McKenzie.
Both teens say they were also kicked off the school's softball team by the coach for being vocal about their lifestyles.
"The other students told us he didn't like that we were gay," said Hicks.
Brittney MacDowell, 19, is a graduate of Del City High School. She said those are the same problems she encountered after her principal learned of sexual orientation.
"I can understand that [my principal] was trying to look after me, but I asked him what he meant by 'my lifestyle,' and he said 'Well, they live an unhealthy lifestyle,'" said MacDowell.
She was able to graduate thanks to her mom who "refused to give up."
A spokeswoman for Mid-Del Schools said none of the students filed a complaint towards any member of the staff or students at any time while attending Del City High School. The girls say that's not true. Hicks claims she contacted members of the school board about her problems.
The school district also issued this statement to News 9:
"It is the policy of the Mid-Del Public School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs, services, and activities. The safety of our students is always the priority of Mid-Del Schools."