Thursday, March 11, 2010

No prom? Blame the gays

This story really makes me sad.
A northern Mississippi school district will not be hosting a high school prom this spring after a lesbian student sought to attend with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.

The Itawamba County school district's board decided Wednesday to drop the prom because of what it called recent distractions but without specifically mentioning the girl's request, which was backed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The student, 18-year-old high school senior Constance McMillen, said the cancellation was retaliation for her efforts to bring her girlfriend, also a student, to the April 2 dance.

"A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this, so in a way it's really retaliation," McMillen told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson. Calls to McMillen by The Associated Press late Wednesday went unanswered.

School policy requires that senior prom dates be of the opposite sex. The ACLU of Mississippi had given the district until Wednesday to change that policy, arguing that banning same-sex prom dates violated McMillen's constitutional rights.


The ACLU said McMillen approached school officials shortly before the memo went out because she knew same-sex dates had been banned in the past. The ACLU said district officials told McMillen she and her girlfriend wouldn't be allowed to arrive together, that she would not be allowed to wear a tuxedo, and that she and her girlfriend might be asked to leave if their presence made any other students "uncomfortable."

Alright, I know it's Mississippi, and apparently it's a small religious town, but how can a school be so fucking stupid? Don't they know this is just going to open up a can of worms? No, instead they have to stand by their "traditional values" of discrimination instead of letting a girl wear a tux and dance with another girl. Jesus Christ, people. Have a little compassion, or at least a little legal common sense.

And the fact that they canceled prom is even worse than if they just banned this student from taking a same-sex date. I think McMillen is right when she says this is punishment - those gays are to blame for prom being canceled! If only they could just be good, quiet, heterosexual girls who wore dresses. If this high school is anything like mine (or most American high schools), prom is a big fucking deal. Even I went to prom. Twice.

This makes me wonder what could have happened at my high school back in the day. Two of my close friends were lesbians who were dating each other, and they were considering going to prom together. I know there were some worries over if Munster would allow it, if they'd have to fight for it, if they'd have to drag in their parents (who are super supportive wonderful people). They would have been the first same sex couple to try it - gays went to prom, but usually with a friend for a date because they were too afraid to come out (I was actually my gay friend's beard for his senior prom). In the end, it didn't matter though - they decided that prom was lame, and they went to a Star Wars convention instead (probably a much better choice).

I really hope this school comes around and stops acting like the asshats they are. No, prom isn't some god given right to all high school students - but to revoke that privilege because of one gay couple is just wrong.

(Via BoingBoing)


  1. This has been the tactic of late when a rural, conservative and mostly Christian school is confronted with the realities that some of the kids going there are gay. Shut everything down rather than support the students who need support. It helps them avoid lawsuits, and it helps perpetuate homophobia.

    Sad, ain't it?

  2. Having lived a good 9 or so years of my life in Mississippi, just outside of Memphis, TN, I am not surprised. It's going to be a good, long while before there's compassion and equality in the south.

  3. This is the same as the Catholic church closing all it's missions and orphanages in Washington rather than contravene equal rights legislation.

    Not unlike a child taking his ball home because no one would pick him for their team.

  4. No tuxes on women, eh? So, do they also ban images of Marlene Dietrich in tie and tails?

  5. Very dickish move by the school but I'm not really surprised. I mean, there were schools in the South throwing racially segregated proms less than 10 years ago. We are going to have to drag these bigots into the 21st century, kicking and screaming the whole way.

  6. Yeah, the only question left on that score, Rev. O, is what century we'll be in when they finally reach the 21st.

  7. Check out "More than Friends: The Coming Out of Heidi Leiter," an HBO feature about the real-life first same-sex couple to go to prom way back in the eighties/nineties.

  8. It really depressed me to see this story this morning... but what was even worse was that the version I saw had lots of reader comments below it and most of them were disgusting and homophobic.

    We never had this sort of problem in my high school; I went to a very liberal Quaker private school and I'd estimate about 10% of the student body was openly gay. I find it hard even to imagine this sort of thing... bloody hell.

  9. Great, as if the story of "creation paleontology" wasn't enough to ruin my day, this had to make it's way into the news.
    The school really sounds like they are trying to incite a mob. By telling the students prom was canceled because of two lesbians, what do you think the students will do to them or treat them? Freaking unbelievable.

  10. Stupidest. School. Ever.

    Seriously, this is just not something you can just get away with any more. Between the ACLU and the wrath of the internet... they may get their gay-free prom, but it's going to be way more of a headache than they bargained for.


  11. I miss my old school. There was a gay couple and lesbian couple who were going to attend prom together, swapping dates so that their parents didn't know.

    in my school, when you go as a couple the prom committee gives them invitations with both their names as keepsakes. when the prom committee caught wind these two couples, they decided to not only issue them the invitations with the fake relationship, but the real one as well!! so their parents got to keep the fake invites and they got the real ones :)

  12. That's RIDICULOUS, even apart from the discrimination. Groups of girls go to the prom together all the time as friends. My junior year, we all had dates, so senior year, we decided to make it just us girls (except for those that had actual boyfriends, and yes, I was a total nerd!). I also knew of another student who wore a suit, but not in the context of bringing a fellow female date, so I guess that made it okay.

  13. This is just stupid. Especially that girl who said "Either way someone was going to get disappointed." That's bullshit. No one would have to be disappointed if they just let her go. She's not hurting anyone.

    I'm glad my school district wasn't full of assholes. I took a girl to prom (just a friend) and no one said anything about it.

  14. I put contact informtion here. Give them a well-considered word or two about keeping their heads in the sand.

  15. I made my own blog entry here:

  16. Ughhh I'm glad Lake Central was way more open about this. We had about 10 couples bring their same sex date and there was no trouble.

  17. This actually isn't the same as Catholics shutting down their missions in DC. This isn't the same at all. This is actually a pretty old play out of the right-wing playbook.

    Know where else it got use?

    During the Civil Rights movement.

    The government said, "You have to allow blacks into your school," the counties said, "We're shutting our schools down." The affluent white upper crust said, "Oh, we can't have that, so we'll open up private schools to take over!"

    If you look down a list of private schools in Mississippi, you'll notice virtually all of them were founded in the late 60s. This is why.

    And it's the same play they're doing here; they aren't canceling prom, they're canceling the publicly funded prom, with the unspoken expectation that some generous private backers will pick up the tab for their own little prom, with their own rules.

    And they will.

    But fuck Itawamba county. They wouldn't have batted an eye if it was someone trying to bring their pet pig to prom.

  18. This is how you do it:

  19. Scott: they're canceling the publicly funded prom, with the unspoken expectation that some generous private backers will pick up the tab for their own little prom, with their own rules.

    Not so unspoken. According to the story I saw, the school board explicitly expressed the hope that private citizens would hold a replacement event. Presumably one where the right-thingking can exclude pariahs without legal hassles.

    The thing is, hardly anyone had heard of Itawamba county before this. Now, thanks to the internet, the place is becoming famous -- for prejudice. "Itawamba" will become a symbol, like George Wallace in the schoolhouse door.

  20. If you check out Dan Savage's blog on The Stranger he's got a post on this, with contact information for the school district. They sounded distinctly disgruntled when I called. I guess they're not used to the national attention.