Should schools be allowed to ban same sex prom dates?

Sara - posted on 03/02/2010 ( 6 moms have responded )

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http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aclu-dem...



FULTON, MS – The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition today demanded that Itawamba County School District officials reverse their decision to forbid a lesbian student from attending prom with her girlfriend and from wearing a tuxedo to the prom. Constance McMillen, a student at Itawamba Agricultural High School, said that school officials told her that she could not arrive at the prom with her girlfriend, also a student at IAHS, and that they might be thrown out if any other students complained about their presence.



“Prom is one of those high school moments everyone should get to experience and enjoy. I didn’t go to prom last year, so this is my only chance to go,” said McMillen, an 18-year-old senior at the school in Fulton, a small town of about 3,900 in the northeastern corner of Mississippi. “We just want to be able to be ourselves at our own prom.”



McMillen said she approached school officials shortly before a memo about prom was circulated at school on February 5 that said same-sex dates would not be allowed, because she knew same-sex dates had been banned from prom in the past. McMillen met with the assistant principal and later the superintendent, who told her that they would not be allowed to arrive together, that she would not be allowed to wear a tuxedo to prom, and that she and her girlfriend might be thrown out if their presence made any other students “uncomfortable” at the April 2 event.



“Prom is supposed to be about all students being able to express themselves, have fun, and make memories that will last the rest of their lives,” said Kristy Bennett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Constance has a constitutional right to take the person she’s dating to the prom, just like any other student at any other public school.”



In today’s letter to Itawamba County School District officials, the ACLU cited federal court cases guaranteeing students’ First Amendment right to bring same-sex dates to school dances, and also pointed out that treating McMillen and other lesbian, gay, and bisexual students differently from other students violates the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees. In addition to illegally barring McMillen and her girlfriend from attending the prom together, the ACLU said that the school further violated McMillen’s free expression rights by telling her that she can’t wear a tuxedo to the prom.



“We hope that informing the school about its legal obligations towards its students will make it think twice about treating Constance and her girlfriend any differently than it does any other student couple who wants to go to the prom,” said Christine P. Sun, Senior Counsel with the ACLU national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, who represents McMillen along with the ACLU of Mississippi. “Schools that discriminate against lesbian, gay, and bisexual students who want to bring same-sex dates to school dances need to know that by doing so they’re violating established federal law, and we will call them on it.”



The ACLU and the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition have given the school district until March 10, 2010 to respond to their letter.



Additional information, including a copy of the school’s prom memo and the ACLU’s demand letter, is available at http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/fulton-m...



The Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition was formed in the fall of 2008 to address discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students, or students perceived to be LGBT, in Mississippi public schools and colleges. The MSSC works closely with the ACLU of Mississippi to educate teachers, students, and administrators about the rights of LGBT students with the aim of making schools safer for all. The MSSC is youth-led, and any questions about student rights at prom, starting a gay-straight alliance club, or any other safe schools issues can be directed to Ashley Jackson, facilitator, at ashley@mssafeschools.org.

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JL - posted on 03/02/2010

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Hell no this is absurd and ridiculous. A student should not be forbidden from taking the sutdent date of their choice. It's even more ridiculous that they not only banned same-sex dates but then they even tried to ban a female from wearing a tux....seriously are there not better things going on that the schools should be focusing on like...education.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/02/2010

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God this is just so ridiculous! It's not like the girls were going to paint each other blue and then initiate an orgy on the dance floor! What is the difference between two girls going as a couple, and two girls going together because they couldn't get dates? If they ban same sex couples, then they should be ready to ban interracial couples, and couples who are different ages, or different religions, couples who have mohawks... The prom is a time for celebrating a huge accomplishment, no one should be stopped from attending. I knew a guy who wore a dress to grad... he was straight and just did it for shits and giggles. So how can a girl who is wearing PANTS be offensive or wrong? I bet you wouldn't even notice that they were any different from the other students. I danced with all my friends at grad, guys and girls. Hell I even danced with my teachers :P

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Similar cases have been brought before courts and have always ruled in the student's favor. Sadly though, the positive ruling is always AFTER the prom, or other similar event. Bottom line, the school is wrong, the student is right. Yes, same sex couples should be allowed to attend the prom and just be kids enjoying their last high school moments.

Jenny - posted on 03/02/2010

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NO, the mere thought is frickin ridiculous. No wonder so many teenagers kill themselves. They are torn up hormonally and emotionally enough as it is then we have to push ass backwards politics on them too?

Krista - posted on 03/02/2010

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Ridiculous. What possible justification could they have from banning a same-sex couple from prom? These kids are graduating and going out into the big, bad world, and will likely encounter more than one same-sex couple in their travels. So why do they have to be so sheltered from it? It'd probably do them good to see a happy, celebrating same-sex couple that they know, so that they can learn that same-sex couples are just normal people.

Then again...they probably DON'T want those kids learning that same-sex couples are just normal people. Heaven forbid that they actually become (gasp!) tolerant and open-minded.

Rachel - posted on 03/02/2010

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OMG!!!! What has this world come to??? Seriously this makes me so mad they are kids who deserve the right to be themselves. Who is it gunna hurt if these girls go to the prom together and one wears a tuxedo? Here i was thinking that we have freedom of choice in this world, we have a choice of what clothes we want to wear, we have a choice in the words that we use and we have a choice of how we want to live our lives but there basically telling this young girl that she has no choices at all either she goes with a boy and wears a dress or she is'nt allowed to go. THAT IS JUST SO WRONG i dont care what anyone says punishing someone for being themselves is WRONG. Seriously when did everyone become so high in mighty and think they have the right to tell people who they can and cant love or who they can and cant take to a prom, whats gunna be next people being banned from work christmas party's and things because there gay and that might upset a straight person who has their head that far up their but they cant see the light of day.



A few of the young girls here went to their formal wearing tuxedo's because they thought that Charlie Chaplin was cool and cute, and their partners were girls, lol the teachers thought it was a laugh because these girls were all so easy going and have never hidden who they are from anyone. In my opinion thats how it should be because if not we all just end up being the governments porns.

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