Atlanta | Education | Gay Youth | Reuben Lack

Reuben Lack And His Attorney Overwhelmed By Media Attention; Remain Resolute


Yesterday, Andy told the story of Reuben Lack, the student council president of Atlanta's Alpharetta High School, who was allegedly removed from the presidency after he proposed making prom more gay-friendly. (He intended to alter the rules of Prom King- and Queen-ship so that LGBT folk might be eligible.) Lack was, and is, suing Alpharetta over the matter.

Andy wasn't the only one reporting the story. It's been all over the web and the television and the presses, and it's come as a bit of a shock to Alpharetta, Lack, and Lack's attorney -- a Mr. James Radford, who has now posted a plea for sanity to his website: 

Did we predict [Reuben's story] would explode the way it has? Not in my wildest imagination.

I have no “PR Department,” no formal means of publicity. I don’t even have a secretary. I am a one-man show, having been a solo practitioner for less than 6 weeks at the time this story broke. I issued a short statement on my blog, including a copy of the complaint and our motion for injunction. I contacted two Atlanta-area TV reporters who I knew personally, because I thought they might be interested in the story. And Reuben’s family and friends shared my blog post on Facebook.

Within 48 hours, we were being contacted by the Associated Press, Reuters, LGBT publications throughout the country, XM satellite radio, and the list goes on. The story went international. I was personally overwhelmed with media inquiries, and also messages of support. We tried to accommodate the media requests as best as possible, and gave interviews to three local news stations, the Georgia Voice, and the reporter from AP.

This was initially very exciting. But the story may have gotten too big, too fast, and I believe the students, faculty, and administration at Alpharetta High School have found themselves overwhelmed. I know Reuben and his family have felt overwhelmed. Reuben is just a kid who wants to finish his term of class president, something that is very important to him, and something that he earned through his own hard work and persistence.

But as Lack's story gained media traction, some claimed otherwise: That Lack had been removed from his position due to poor leadership and general flakiness. As Mr. Ratford notes, this seems unlikely: The school administration never griped about Lack until he tried to make prom more gay-friendly.

Nevertheless, Lack's got a lot of enemies in his school, and they're vicious. They've been throwing invective all over Twitter, making fun of Lack's backpack (it apparently has rollers; hashtags such as "#rollingbackpackboyprobz" and "#ihopereubensbackpackgetsaflat" are common) and his alleged sexuality and/or lack of intelligence ("f*** reuben and his gay ass. he is stupid as f***"), and braying homophobic nonsense in a way that suggests nobody's told Atlanta's children that they will one day have HR professionals picking through their internet histories. ("If Reuben Lack is reinstated as student council president I'm dropping out. I don't want to see a guy in a tiara win prom queen.") Mr. Ratford features all of this ugliness and more on his website, which will hopefully serve as notice to somebody. Young Alpharettans may be too stupid to know it, but when your bullying tweets are republished by an angry attorney, the situation has become serious. 

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  1. Wow, Lyndsey. You've taken to defending a position so indefensible it prompted Jason to make a salient argument against it.

    If you were as familiar with his commenting history as we are, that alone would be enough to make you take a good hard look in the mirror.

    Posted by: FFS | Mar 25, 2012 5:25:03 AM

  2. I commend the students writing here, regardless of whether I agree with all their views or not.
    It's not easy to engage a group of furious adults.

    My own reaction and feelings on the matter haven't changed, I've read nothing in the news to indicate this isn't exactly what it seems to be: Hateful christians demanding we go back into the closet or else. Or else being physical violence.

    That doesn't mean I can understand that this is upsetting and discouraging for the students who are involved in this situation.

    Keep speaking up. It won't be easy, our country is now so divided on any issue arising from the question of a woman's right to dominion over her body or a gay person's demands that his or her full civil rights be restored.

    The alternative to talking this out is too horrible to consider.

    Oh, and, yes - let's stop bashing people from Dixie. It's not productive.

    Posted by: enough already | Mar 25, 2012 6:33:53 AM

  3. I salute this kid for taking a difficult stance and sticking to it- in the tradition of his fellow Georgian Martin Luther King. It is, among other things, what manliness is supposed to be about.

    I think it is appropriate to point out how far out of the world's cultural mainstream the American South lies. Adherence to bigoted tradition, melded with hyper-religiosity creates a toxic mix one step removed from the Taliban. Overlooking their many missteps serves no one well.

    Posted by: Rob | Mar 25, 2012 8:21:57 AM

  4. @Lyndsey: Seen any of the tweets against Rueben? So, tell me again about the "reputation" of your school? Your school is blood-red in its politics. Your student body, obviously based on the tweets, is a cesspool of bigoted idiots. I hope all those tweets come back to haunt every last one of you. May your future be a lousy one.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Mar 25, 2012 1:01:19 PM

  5. Congratulations and thank you to Reuben and his father.Two stand up guys!

    Posted by: jack | Mar 25, 2012 2:30:29 PM

  6. I understand all of the feelings of those who have read the articles because I initially sided with Reuben on the issues. I personally voted for him for student body president and personally know him. However, at our school, it became common knowledge that the media's story is not correct. If this was the case that Reuben had been removed because of his views, I would 100% side with him. Everything Lyndsey has said is for the most part correct. I know that my peers and myself have not responded appropriately (some of my friends were the ones doing those tweets), but it is frustrating that the media is only showing Reuben's side which does not contain all of the facts.

    Posted by: AHS student | Mar 25, 2012 4:44:39 PM

    Your school looks stupid because it handled this matter abysmally. If Lack was a jerk, he was an elected jerk, with access to publicity, not a kid the principal appointed. To remove him just after he tried to push a Gay Rights issue makes the school officials look like bigots.
    And I laugh at the defenders of the South saying "California is full of Newts" -- when your part of the country has way too many folks who call the President "Muslim" because they mean "Nxggxr"

    Posted by: Bob | Mar 25, 2012 5:12:05 PM

  8. @BOB
    Yes, our school does look stupid. That is the reason behind all the hatred directed at Reuben and the reason why we continue to post urging people that this is not the only side to the story.

    Posted by: AHS student | Mar 25, 2012 8:36:13 PM

  9. @ahs student
    "Sociology of Human Sexuality" a college book ( an item you will never encounter.)demonstrates conclusively that homophobes are latent homosexuals.
    You and your friends are just jealous that he is out and you are not.
    Get some balls, boy. Come out of the closet and see what it takes to be a real man; a man is one who would brave adversity, rather than lie about himself.

    Posted by: H8Str8s | Mar 25, 2012 11:31:25 PM

  10. But why are you spelling Radford with a "t?"

    Posted by: crutch | Mar 26, 2012 8:57:56 PM

  11. the south = americas anus , afflicted with unrepentant diarhea of the mouth and brain

    We made a big mistake after the civil war - not separating all the men from all the women there by a thousand miles.

    By the early 1900s the christian problem of hate would have been a just a nasty memory

    Posted by: billyw | Mar 27, 2012 3:19:35 AM

  12. all have effectively pinned a stereotype to alpharetta high school with no knowledge of the facts....i think it would be wise to enlighten you all living in the shadows that Alpharetta is one of the top academic schools (governor's cup for SAT scores in 2007) in the nation as well as one of the most diverse. So your southern redneck super conservative stereotypes are invalid and show nothing but ignorance. Wow, you liberals are so smart, i am completely envious of your intellectual capabilities, please enlighten me some more as to how wise and spectacular you are

    Posted by: Reitz | Mar 27, 2012 7:51:45 AM

  13. Lyndsey:

    Reuben Lack only wants to make the prom more open and accepting to GLBT teens, perhaps he has gone the wrong way by attempting to change the names - but anyway he needs to be supported for his effort in making the prom more accepting. When I was in high school no girl would ask me to the prom because I was gay, yet all my heterosexual male friends got asked and went with a female partner. That is one example of how we GLBT people often feel excluded.

    Posted by: Jasonb84 | Mar 27, 2012 9:59:15 AM

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