(EDGE) Prom is one of the most exciting nights in a teen's life. But administrators at a Florida high school squashed the evening for a same-sex couple.
Paula Goodgame, a 17-year-old junior at St. Petersburg Catholic High School in St. Petersburg, Fla., was told by school officials she wasn't allowed to bring her girlfriend of four months, Anjali Persad (who attends a nearby private school), to prom, BuzzFeed reports. Taking to Twitter last week, Goodgame wrote she received an email from her guidance counselor, saying she wasn't allowed to bring Persad to the dance.
"A week before prom and I'm not allowed to take my girlfriend...it's not like we already bought what we were gonna wear or anything..." Goodgame wrote.
The teen was pointed to the school's prom guidelines, which state "escorts must be of the opposite gender." Goodgame, a new student to the Catholic school, wasn't aware of the rule, however, and initially sent a teacher an email about the matter.
"I just transferred here and I don't exactly have too many friends, and that added on with the social anxiety of prom makes me feel like prom would be awkward for me," the student wrote to a teacher in an email she shared with BuzzFeed. "Because of that and news I heard from my friend, I was asking for confirmation if I could bring my girlfriend to prom. That way I could have a familiar face in the crowd and be with my date."
When the teacher didn't respond to her message, Goodgame then reached out to her guidance counselor, who confirmed the rule that "students are not allowed to bring people of the same sexes" as their date. The counselor then offered some "advice":
"However, if you could have one of your male friends ask her as his date that would probably work," the counselor wrote.
Speaking to BuzzFeed, Goodgame said the response was "a huge surprise because of how rude it was...because it was coming from someone I'm supposed to confide in."
Twitter users seemed to be equally outraged. After the teen tweeted about the incident, her message went viral, receiving more than 9,000 shares. BuzzFeed reports some Twitter users even sent emails to the school expressing their disgust.
After the outpouring response to Goodgame's story, the teen wrote she and her girlfriend "never expected this," adding they "appreciate all this love and support. So a big thank you to everyone."
Persad also spoke with BuzzFeed about the incident and Twitter's response to the couple.
"I really love all the love and support we've received since the tweet blew up, It's been really amazing watching the LGBT community stick up for each other," she said. "I hope that all other LGBT students in our situation can find courage to stand up for themselves and for others so we can find equality for all."
Goodgame added parents and friends in her community are accepting and supportive of her relationship.
"There are other gay people at the school, and a couple of the students there have gay parents. No one really expected this to come about, especially me and my friends," Goodgame said. "My family and my best friend's family is Catholic and they're supportive of what I do because they believe in 'love thy neighbor' despite who that 'neighbor' is."
Though it's unclear if Goodgame's school will change its position, the couple attended Persad's school dance last weekend.
"If she can't go to my prom, then that prom is not worth going to," Persad told BuzzFeed. "You're supposed to have that whole 'magical' night with someone special, ya know? It wouldn't be worth it without her."