Anais Celini, 18, attends Martin Luther High School in Maspeth, NY. She is a senior and was planning to go to the prom with her boyfriend, Nathaniel Baez. Not so fast says the private Christian high school. Nathaniel is transgender. The school says that this is “unconventional,” so Nathaniel attending would not be “beneficial” to the proceedings.
Celini says the school views them as a same-sex couple.
Rather than engage the school in a knock-down/drag-out, the couple has decided to create their own prom.
I’m not going to fight them, that wasn’t the point. It’s a big night for everybody and I don’t want to cause a scene.
Baez, 19, is saving money to put on their own small celebration, and Celini said that a transitional housing center has already come forward and offered to host a special prom for the couple.
It’s a really big deal, because he needs that money and he’s trying to put that together for me. Nathaniel is helping.
Celini and Baez have been a couple for two years…which has resulted in both of them being kicked out of their family homes.
Last year was hectic and we wanted to end the year with some peace.
Meanwhile school officials have refused to comment about any policy which forbids the couple from attending the prom. Celini says it is because the school does not allow same-sex couples and the school refuses to acknowledge Baez’ gender.
We are no longer a same-sex couple. They need to see him as male and respect that. We didn’t want to sneak ourselves into prom, we wanted to be upfront and be respectful about it.
Some of the teachers at the school have expressed support for Celini, but they cannot express that support publicly without damaging their relationships with their employer.
They were proud of me but they couldn’t voice that.
On a recent visit to Coney Island a vendor recognized them from a television appearance and gave them free spray-on tattoos.
GLSEN has launched a campaign where people can express their support for the couple.
Prom is a highlight of the school year for many students, and no one should have that opportunity taken away. Excluding a student from such a memorable part of the school experience simply for being who they are is not only wrong – it’s humiliating. We wish Anais and Nathaniel the best and want them to know they have our full support.
–Daryl Presgraves, GLSEN’s director of communications