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Talk of Central Islip homecoming gender policy tabled

Faith Shepherd, 17, is this year's homecoming king

Faith Shepherd, 17, is this year's homecoming king at Central Islip Senior High School. Shepherd said she is a lesbian and ran for homecoming king to make a statement about gender roles in society. (Oct. 12, 2013) Credit: Ursula Moore

The Central Islip Board of Education has shelved its discussion until next year on whether to adopt a policy for its homecoming king and queen selection.

A buzz circled the school district in October when Faith Shepherd, 17, who said she came out as a lesbian when she was 13, was elected homecoming king at Central Islip Senior High School in October.

The school district does not currently have a policy in place that dictates gender roles for homecoming king and queen, Superintendent Craig Carr said.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, board members voted to table the first of three discussions until the next board meeting on Jan. 13.

Bishop Donald Hudson, pastor at Common Ground Christian Life Church in Central Islip, spoke for nearly 20 minutes at the meeting about his dismay at the school board for “violating tradition.”

Hudson, who does not have any children in the school district but said many of the schoolchildren attend services at his church, said crossing gender lines causes “confusion” among young people.

“If we allow children to do whatever they want, where will they end up in the end?” Hudson said.

Hudson also complained that the schools did not notify parents about the “controversy,” but Fred Philips, the school board president, said the board was notified of the selection by the student council and its supervisor, and that “there was no incident” or controversy to inform parents about.

In its decision, the district’s attorney, Kevin Seaman, along with its board members, will consider the New York State Dignity for All Students Act, which states that students cannot be subject to discrimination based on gender identity or expression.

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