As you know, Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, MS, recently told Constance McMillen that she could not attend her prom with her girlfriend and that she could not come dressed in a tuxedo. The school also informed Ms. McMillen that even if she dressed as they wanted and arrived by herself, she might be thrown out if she was seen slow-dancing with her girlfriend. Plain and simple, this is bigotry. Ms. McMillen was treated differently on the basis of her sexual orientation.
Being more courageous than many high school students, Ms. McMillen decided to stand up for her rights. She contacted the ACLU and asked for help. The ACLU came to her assistance, sending a letter to the school board requesting that she be permitted to attend the prom just like any other student at her school. The school board considered the letter and decided to do what few expected - they cancelled the entire prom.
Is this really how great fear of "teh gay" is in the Mississippi of 2010? Evidently so. My guess, and this is pure speculation, is that the board was worried about Christian parents of children who attended Itawamba Agricultural not being able to handle the idea of their kids seeing two lesbians dancing at their prom.
What people need to realize is that this is precisely the sort of thing that makes Mississippi look bad to the rest of the country. Our image as a bigoted, ignorant backwater hurts us economically and serves to deter the sort of businesses we claim we want from moving here. It also drives more and more people to leave the state as soon as they are able.
The ACLU has now filed a lawsuit against the school district in the form of Constance McMillen v. Itawamba County School District. The suit asks the district to reinstate the prom for all students and claims that district officials violated Ms. McMillen’s First Amendment rights by determining who she could take to prom, what she could wear, etc.
A hearing on a motion for a preliminary injunction is scheduled for Monday, March 22.
H/T to A Passion to Understand
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