Mississippi High School Canceled Prom for Lesbian Date Request.

Image from True/Slant.
A high school in Mississippi, so distraught by their own homophobia canceled the prom because they didn’t want a lesbian couple to attend.

The Itawamba County school district’s policy requires that senior prom dates be of the opposite sex. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi had given the district until Wednesday to change that policy and allow 18-year-old Constance McMillen to escort her girlfriend, who is also a student, to the dance on April 2.
Instead, the school board met and issued a statement announcing it wouldn’t host the event at Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Fulton, “due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events.

The ACLU will now be suing the school district.

Join the Conversation

  • Comrade Kevin

    Ah yes, let us cut off our nose to spite our face!

  • cattrack2

    Q: Who would cut off their own nose to spite their face?
    A: Itawamba County, MS.
    Un-freaking-believable…That’s a whooole lotta hate.

  • Marc

    Let’s say the obvious: when it comes to gay rights, the right’s sentiments of “hate the sin, love the sinners,” and the “sanctity of marriage” are all bullshit and hatred, hidden behind the veils of misogyny.
    It isn’t about any of that, it is simply about them hating homosexuals for not choosing to love the way they love, which is to say, they don’t know a fucking thing about love at all.

  • Phenicks

    That decision was awful in SO many ways but I still don’t se ehow the ACLU intends to force the school to have a Prom when Prom is a privilege. You can cancel Prom for any reason but if you have you can’t discriminate against anyone, so they chose to cancel it.
    I hope the parents of the other students go over why the Prom was canceled , i.e the school board is filled with a bunch of bigots who would rather punish all of you instead of welcome one of you so that the hostility of the student body is directed to the proper place.

  • konkonsn

    “‘I guess it’s a decision that had to be made. Either way someone was going to get disappointed – either Constance was or we were,’ Watson said.”
    We? I think you might have been a little bummed, but it seems like some of the students would’ve been a-ok. And no doubt you still would’ve gone to the prom.
    *sigh* This reminds me of a friend who wrote controversial poetry in high school, so they didn’t let his English class publish a book of their poetry. He said he hated how he felt it was his fault everyone was disappointed. It’s pretty much a no-brainer that McMillen doesn’t want to talk right now.

  • stabbygail

    Aside from being an asshole move, I love the way the administration is trying to make the girl in question the bad guy. “See kids? We want you normal people to get a nice prom, but the lesbian won’t let you have it!”
    Because I can’t imagine any negative consequences she might face at school because of this. /sarcasm

  • attentat

    Holy dick move, Batman. And knowing high schoolers, the all the problems this couple faces normally are going to increase twentyfold because “they got prom cancelled.” And I bet that’s why they made the decision.

  • smartbunny

    The ignorance, intolerance and straight-up disgusting behavior of this school board is reprehensible. What YEAR is this? What COUNTRY is this?? I cannot imagine this actually happening… and way to give Mississippi a bad name. If you don’t want to be treated like ignorant rednecks, don’t ACT like ignorant rednecks.

  • Gesyckah

    I read this story on Yahoo! earlier today. The version at that time included an original statement from the school saying that Constance and her girlfriend would have to enter the prom separately and could still be asked to leave if their presence made others “uncomfortable”. Because as we all know, school isn’t a time for young people to learn tolerance; and some students’ comfort is more important than others.

  • Cactus Wren

    And the most enraging part is that — just as when a few years ago a Utah school district banned all after-school clubs in high schools rather than allow the Gay-Straight Alliance to meet — the people who lose out, who are deprived of their prom or their clubs, will be encouraged (by those imposing the ban) to blame “the gays”.

  • getfighted

    This story has already spawned several facebook groups in support of Constance, as well was some heated debate. I’m posting it everywhere I can and raising awareness for Ms. McMillen. This is a story everyone my age needs to hear. I am 16, my prom is in a few months and I want every one of my peers to question how they would feel if they were denied the right to go to prom with who they wanted.

  • smartbunny

    “Either way someone was going to be disappointed” – well NOT if you act like HUMAN BEINGS and let all students attend prom? Nah, can’t do that. So someone’s going to be disappointed. Yes, every intelligent compassionate person is disappointed in YOU.

  • Jeanette

    I believe the site for the high school was taken down, but I found this info on the site for the school district, just in case anyone wants to give them their opinion:
    Itawamba Agricultural High School
    9th-12th Grade — Principal: Trae Wiygul
    Itawamba County School District Office
    Superintendent: Teresa McNeece

  • that girl

    RAGING HOMOPHOBIA aside, I’m also a little confused. She and her girlfriend wouldn’t be allowed to arrive together, but what if two friends are going stag? I went to prom “stag,” in a big group with my friends and their dates, and we all arrived together. Do couples need to line up two by two to make sure every one is nice and heteronormatively paired?

  • uberhausfrau

    in my high school, you had to have a (presumably opposite sex – it’s been a while, so i dont remember) date for school dances. you were not allowed to “go doe” to change the phrase. i wonder if it was to discourage same sex couples from meeting up once in the doors.
    i always thought the date policy was crappy because it certainly would have been nice to go with a bunch of my girl friends than just pairs who didnt always run in the same circles.

  • dhistory

    This story is weird. When I was in school the principal had no idea who exactly was coming to prom. We just bought tickets and showed up. Prom tickets could only be sold to seniors, so whoever bought the tickets would have to be a senior, but that was it. Seniors could bring whatever “date” they wanted. Nobody cared at all.

  • davenj

    The “private solution” part of the article is even more disconcerting to me.
    The school cancelled prom, but they say they hope private citizens create basically an “alterna-prom”.
    This is historically a way for public institutions to outsource segregation by turning control over to a private sector with fewer protections. Think white flight from integrated schooling to private schools.
    Heck, they might even hold this “private function” in a church rec center.

  • konkonsn

    Yeah. The comments section of the yahoo article has quite a few of these “selfish teenagers who ruined it for everyone else instead of learning how to get along with others” posts.
    Someone in another forum talked about that, actually. Because these are teenagers, they’re going to be cast as selfish instead of, you know, wanting their rights.

  • Alice

    On the flip side, privatizing discrimination does at least mean that the people being discriminated against aren’t obligated to personally finance the operations of those that reject them.
    If someone wants a gay-free prom, I have a problem with that itself, but for them to end public proms and let people host (and pay for) their own strikes me as a basically reasonable way to respond to this situation in a way that respects freedom and pluralism. Shame they didn’t just do that for the entire school.

  • hatmaker

    Today (3-12-10) the American Humanist Association (AHA) released a statement that they have stepped forward and offered a plan to foot the bill for a prom for this school. Two AHA members made a $20k grant available for the purpose of holding this prom.
    Good for them!

  • GrrrlRomeo

    Please support the local in-state organization organizing a Second Chance Prom in Mississippi.
    It’s Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition. http://www.mssafeschools.org
    It’s driving me nuts that they’re not getting any linkage in the blogs I’ve read covering it. It’s not just a story, there’s activism to be done.
    If we can’t find and support local grassroots organizations, which are almost certain to be on the case before the story breaks, we’re lost. Truly.

  • davenj

    Certainly it removes the obligation to personally finance rejection, but it also removes any legal recourse to change things. Realistically this school probably would have faced a legal battle strong enough to force them to allow her to attend prom on her terms.
    As it is, by canceling prom and asking for it to be privatized they allow the public opinion of Itawamba County to reign, but with no chance at using the legal protections of the individual to change this.
    The history of alterna-proms is laced with racism in this regard.
    In areas where resources are concentrated in the hands of racists, or sexists, or homophobes, the result will not really be plurality. It’ll be exclusion.

  • rhowan

    Are American high school proms usually paid for or subsidized with public funds? I’d always assumed the money for throwing the party came from ticket sales.

  • Toongrrl

    What are they gonna cancel graduation?

  • Cactus Wren

    I’m given to understand that in many districts, tickets for the prom have to be purchased well in advance: Ms. McMillen’s girlfriend is in a different class (a sophomore), and so couldn’t buy a ticket to the senior prom.