MURRAY A Murray High senior had a truly "memorable" 18th birthday Thursday when she and her girlfriend found out they'll be "cutest couple" in the yearbook.
"It is really cool," said Kortni Coats, who will be named in the yearbook, along with Taunica Crump, her girlfriend of seven months.
"We had joked around about it, but we had never thought we would actually win," Coats said. "It is so cool that all these students stand behind us and are supporting us."
The decision follows a revote after an apparent tie with a junior-senior pair.
A Murray School District spokeswoman says the revote had nothing to do with the fact one of the potential winners was a same-sex couple.
"The bottom line (was), 'Who won?' Not who won," said Martha Kupferschmidt, Murray School District director of student services. "We serve all students, regardless of who they are and what they practice. It's very important to us that we promote tolerance and acceptance of diversity. We don't necessarily have to agree, but we care deeply about teaching and advocating respect for all people, and we care deeply that students are not discriminated against."
However, both students thought their sexual orientation may have been a reason there was a need for a revote but said it was hard to tell in all the confusion.
"There were so many different stories," Crump said. "It was so hard to know what was going on."
The yearbook's "best of the senior class" spread includes about 20 categories, from best athlete to biggest flirt, Kupferschmidt said.
Seniors voted about a week ago for their favorites. But before results were formally announced in the cutest couple category, word leaked two different couples had won: one, a senior boy and a junior girl; the other, two senior girls, Kupferschmidt said.
No recounts could be done, because ballots were no longer available, school officials said.
So students revoted Thursday morning. The two girls won by a close vote, principal Scott Bushnell said.
"We anticipate that some people will not be happy with the outcome, yet we do our best to help them understand . . . that if we're going to give students a vote, we have to be prepared for the outcome," Bushnell said. "Tolerance and acceptance are very important in our society today."
Neither of the two girls could think of a specific moment that earned the designation.
"We're just nice to everyone, and they respect us for our differences," Coats said.
They both thanked their fellow students for their tolerance, including those who didn't vote for them.
"A lot of seniors didn't want us to win because of their standards and morals, but they are very nice to us," Crump said.
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The vote outed Crump to some family members who weren't previously aware of her sexual orientation, and the initial response was a supportive one.
"This was a big step," Crump said. "Everything just fell out right into the open."
Crump said the "cutest couple" designation is especially memorable, since the issue of same-sex couples doesn't seem to be talked about often.
"To have something in the yearbook, that's there forever, I think that's a big deal," she said.
"It shows a lot of people you can actually do stuff if you stand up for yourself," Coats said.