Lawsuit: Arkansas high school denied black student status as class’ sole valedictorian

On Sunday, same-sex couples began marrying in New York, the sixth state where such unions are legal. It was certainly a big step forward in the battle for LGBT equality. But it seems that every time equality takes one step forward in one place, something happens somewhere else that takes us all two steps — or three, or four — back.

The day after same-sex marriages started in New York, I found this story about a high school principal in McGeHee, Ark., who decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian of the 2011 senior class, even though a black student had a higher GPA and should have been named the class’ sole valedictorian.

(I am not trying to start a debate here about whether the LGBT civil rights movement is the same as the black civil rights movement. I am just saying that there’s a long way to go when it comes to equality for everyone.)

Kymberly Wimberly, 18, got only one B — the rest of her grades were all As — during her years at McGehee Secondary Schools, even though her class schedule had always been loaded down with honors and advanced placement classes, according to a report by Courthouse News Service. Even though, as Wimberly’s senior year drew to a close, she had the highest GPA in the class — something her school guidance counselor had already told her — Principal Darrell Thompson decided to name a white student as co-valedictorian because he didn’t want people to be upset that the school, where a majority of students are white, had a black valedictorian, according to Wimberly and her mother, Molly Bratton.

News reports, by the way, indicate that 46 percent of the student body at McGehee is black. So the white majority isn’t really a big majority at all.

—  admin