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Lesbian in the Locker Room 

To be young, gay and outcast in Banning

Thursday, Jan 9 2003
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Page 3 of 3

ASHLY: I still don’t like to go to school. I didn’t go for the first two weeks of this year. I had to talk myself into going to school. There are still days when I wake up and can’t get out of bed because I have so much anxiety about what people will think or say to me at school.

Are people ridiculing you in school now?

ASHLY: Not so much now, because I’m in high school, and it’s more mature; you can go to school dressed in whatever and nobody cares. But I always have my guard up.

Do you go to school dances or anything like that?

ASHLY: No. Never.

AMELIA: They don’t have any, do they?

ASHLY: Yes, they do, but I never go. The gay and lesbian student association in Palm Desert is trying to raise money to have a prom so girls can just dance with girls and boys can dance with boys and gay kids can relax and enjoy themselves and not feel ashamed of it.

What is the goal of this lawsuit?

ASHLY: We want for them to change their policy so if it happens again they deal with it differently.

AMELIA: We want to send a message to the other schools out there, saying, "Hey, wake up." A lot of school districts have gotten by with a lot of things. There are kids who aren’t going to be strong enough to fight it, and we don’t want to have to see other kids go through what Ashly did.

Will you get money from the lawsuit?

AMELIA: There’s going to be some monetary damages, because you can’t just walk away from something — there’s got to be something to forfeit that’s got some sort of a bite to it. That’s just the way it is, or else what have people learned? But mostly we just want the law enforced.

These laws are put in place for a reason so that these policies mean something. Sensitivity training should be part of education. They should have policies and procedures that are set up so that if you have a problem you do A, B or C. You don’t take a child and throw her out and then sit there and watch her. She shouldn’t have been an experiment in anything.

ASHLY: Especially because I didn’t do anything!

Are you aware of anybody else in your school who’s gay or lesbian?

ASHLY: I know bi people. But I don’t know of anyone who’s just gay or just lesbian, except for me.

AMELIA: Sometimes I wonder if those bi girls are really lesbians, and they’re just sitting on the fence because it’s more acceptable.

ASHLY: Yeah, but some of those girls have boyfriends, too.

AMELIA: I know, but that’s just my opinion.

ASHLY: Yeah, maybe. I told people for a while that I was bi for that same reason. One guy in school said to me, "Well, at least you got it half right." I said, "Hey, thanks a lot!"

Were you worried that the lawsuit would generate more publicity than you could stand? Did you ever feel like quitting?

ASHLY: No, because I have to stand up for what I believe in. A lot of people tell me I’m strong to do this, but it’s just what I had to do, once I knew there was the option. I was worried about the media, but I had to stand up for the cause and say, "This is inappropriate." There’s a lot of gay and lesbian teen suicide because kids are afraid to come out. If what I’m doing saves one life, that makes all the difference to me.

Reach the writer at judith.lewis@laweekly.com

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