As if 18-year-old Constance McMillen didn’t have enough obstacles to overcome in her life, she now has the distinction of being the person who got her high school prom canceled.
McMillen, with the assistance of the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, had petitioned the Itawamba County School District Board to allow her attend the Itawamba Agricultural High School prom with her date. The problem, at least as the school board sees it, is that McMillen is a lesbian and her prospective date is a girl.
McMillen’s appeal to the board came after school officials told her that not only were same-sex prom dates against school policy, girls wearing pants and jackets, i.e. tuxedos, was also prohibited. This policy, according to ACLU officials, violates McMillen’s constitutional rights and should be overturned.
But not only did the board refuse to reconsider their policy, they washed their hands of the entire affair by canceling the prom altogether. McMillen is understandably concerned.
“Oh, my God. That’s really messed up because the message they are sending is that if they have to let gay people go to prom that they are not going to have one,” she said. “A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this.”
Of course, this isn’t the first school to deal with this issue and it won’t be the last. While some have reversed their policies banning same-sex dates, many more refuse to do so and instead encourage students to organize private proms. In fact, in a statement in which they “apologize for any inconvenience” their decision has caused, the Itawamba County School District Board suggests the community do just that.
So, why do school officials care who a student holds hands and dances with at the prom? I can’t imagine. It’s not like this school is a Catholic one with some sort of biblical standard to uphold. It’s a public school financed by the tax dollars of those who live in the district, which includes McMillen’s family. Not only has the Itawamba County School District failed this student, by canceling the prom they have effectively set her up to take the heat for their failure.
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