FERNDALE, Wash. (AP) -- Krystal Bennett wore a tuxedo to her prom, showed up with her girlfriend and when titles for the prom court were handed out, Bennett was crowned prom king.
Bennett, the only openly gay student at Ferndale High School, received a hug from the school's elected queen, Kara Johnson, but others in this community of about 8,000 have failed to embrace her.
"It's pretty absurd," homemaker Susan Denell, 55, said of the students' decision to elect a lesbian prom king. "I would hope the school would set policies to make guidelines clear."
The school is asking next year's seniors to develop rules regarding upcoming elections for prom court. And an outspoken anti-gay minister has vowed to protest the high school's graduation Saturday.
But Bennett, who voted for herself partly on a lark and partly because she wanted the title, now sees the discussion as a breakthrough for homosexuals.
Some in Ferndale, about 90 miles north of Seattle, were red-faced over the prom vote but they are further embarrassed by the decision by the Rev. Fred Phelps, who heads the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., to demonstrate outside the school's graduation.
"Graduation is a special event," said Nadine Frost, whose children graduated from the school several years ago. "To have an outsider denigrate what they've worked for for 12 years, it's unconscionable."
Phelps, who picketed outside the funeral of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard in 1998, said the Ferndale prom election sends the wrong message.
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