By Sarina Trangle
A young couple is determined not to let a Maspeth Lutheran school’s policy against admitting a transgender date to the prom keep them from partaking in the high school tradition.
Anais Celini, 18, said her boyfriend Nathaniel Baez began planning a personal prom celebration for her after Martin Luther School administrators told her she could not bring him to the May 22 dance.
The high school senior said the school indicated it considered Baez’s current transition “unconventional” and something the church would not support. Celini said last year, when the school knew Baez as a woman named Angelica, it did not permit the couple to attend the prom because it said same-sex couples were not allowed at the event.
“But since he was going through his transition, we are no longer a same-sex couple and we thought they would have to sort of accept that,” said Celini, a Brooklyn resident. “Other couples just give the name and they never look at it.”
Martin Luther School, at 60-02 Maspeth Ave., declined to comment citing privacy concerns.
Celini said Baez is planning a celebration for her that includes a trip to Six Flags amusement park, tickets to see Blue Man Group and plans to play zombie laser tag.
She said the transitional housing facility where Baez wound up after his family kicked him out has also scheduled a more traditional prom for the couple. The two have raised $85 for decorations, a tux and dress through the website Go Fund Me.
“Some people have offered to take our prom portrait for free and things like that,” Celini said. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback.”
Being barred from the prom is just the latest in several struggles the couple has endured since coming out.
Celini said she and Baez met two years ago in church while she was attending a beginner’s Bible study session and Baez was baby-sitting children of those attending the class.
Baez attended Martin Luther for his sophomore and junior years of high school. Celini said his mother then transferred him to Glover Cleveland High School, which is where he received his diploma last year, because his mother does not support same-sex couples and did not want them to attend class together.
Then Baez’s family kicked him out, Celini said. He has since moved into Chelsea Foyer in Manhattan, where Celini said rent payments are put in a savings funds that is used to help residents sustain themselves when they eventually move out. The organization also provides personalized programs to help residents find permanent housing and careers.
“They heard our story so they decided to throw us [a prom] as well,” Celini said.
She noted that many of her high school classmates and pupils in Martin Luther’s middle school have come up to her with messages of support. More than 3,600 people have signed an online petition calling on the school to welcome the couple at the prom.
But Celini said administrators had not budged since about two months ago, when one school official told her he reviewed the scriptures and determined the church could not back Baez’s transition.
“The school runs on this mission statement that we have to try shape the Christian charter in our students and then you’re using the Bible to put students down,” she said. “You don’t know who you are going to be pushing away from the Bible and from the characteristics that you are trying to build in them. It’s not right.”
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at [email protected].