The Central Islip School Board last night voted down a proposal to require nominees for Homecoming King to be male and Homecoming Queen to be female. The Suffolk County Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union applauded its decision.

The proposal came after a local church group filed a petition to the school board after a lesbian student at Central Islip High School, Faith Shepherd, ran for and won the title for Homecoming King as a statement for gender equality and to support transgender individuals.

Upon hearing about the church's plan to petition the board, the NYCLU sent a letter to the Central Islip School Board urging it to reject the discriminatory policy as a clear violation of state and federal law.

"Not only did this proposal trample on basic First Amendment freedoms, it would have discriminated against transgender students and others who might not conform to traditional notions of gender," said NYCLU Suffolk County Chapter Director Amol Sinha. "Faith's campaign for Homecoming King was an act of political expression in support of gender equality and should be celebrated. The huge showing from students and community members alike at yesterday's meeting proves there is no room for regressive, discriminatory policies at Central Islip schools."

Shepherd ran for Homecoming King specifically in order to convey a symbolic message of opposition to sexual stereotyping and to the reinforcement of gender roles. She won the title with the overwhelming support of her peers and faculty.