Demand Equal Rights for Mississippi High School Prom Guests
Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi is getting ready for prom season. But instead of this being a celebratory time of year, where high school seniors and juniors prepare to hang out with friends, the school has decided to cancel their prom. Why?
Because they don't want a lesbian student to show up with a same-sex date.
School board members made the decision to cancel the prom this week, after being faced with a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after they threatened to ban this lesbian student from attending. School officials said that the presence of a lesbian student with a date at the prom could make people feel "uncomfortable."
But what's "uncomfortable" is watching a high school tell students that gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students aren't welcome at the prom. Tell Itawamba Agricultural High that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation, should be welcome at prom. Queer students shouldn't have to pretend they're straight for a night just to be able to attend school functions.
But the only thing uncomfortable about this situation is that the Itawamba Agricultural High School would punish all students simply to practice homophobia toward another student.
By canceling the prom, Itawamba Agricultural High School is failing to place the interests of their student body at the core of their work. Instead, it sends a message of intolerance. It punishes everyone -- straight and gay students alike -- and cements a very dangerous reputation for your school.
Prom should be an experience where all students feel accepted, regardless of their sexual orientation. Indeed, your school should be a school where all students feel safe and respected, regardless of their situation. Sadly, your actions have not reflected this at all.
I urge you to reconsider your decision to first bar Constance McMillen and her partner (also a fellow student at Itawamba Agricultural High) from Prom, and then to subsequently eliminate the prom altogether. All students deserved to be treated with respect in your school district, regardless of their sexual orientation.