Friday, March 12, 2010
Fight for Your Rights
I am proud of Constance McMillen and ashamed of the adults in her community. From today's Johnson City Press:
JACKSON, Miss. — Constance McMillen didn’t believe her Mississippi school district would really call off her senior prom rather than allow her to show up with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.
On Thursday, a day after the Itawamba County school board did just that, the 18-year-old lesbian high school senior reluctantly returned to campus to some unfriendly looks, she said.
“Somebody said, ’Thanks for ruining my senior year.”’ McMillen said.
The district announced Wednesday it wouldn’t host the April 2 prom. The decision came after the American Civil Liberties Union demanded that officials change a policy banning samesex prom dates because it violated students’ rights. And the ACLU said the district not letting McMillen wear a tuxedo violated her free expression rights....
....Same-sex prom dates and crossdressing are new issues for many high schools around the country, said Daryl Presgraves, a spokesman for GLSEN: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a Washington-based advocacy group.
“A lot of schools actually react rather than do the research and find out what the rights of these students are,” said Presgraves, who was preparing to facilitate a discussion about anti-gay bullying at a National Association of Secondary School Principals meeting.
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said a bill he’s introduced in Congress would protect students such as McMillen. Polis said the measure would make it illegal to discriminate against gay and lesbian school students. He said his bill is modeled after similar laws in at least 10 states.
“This situation with the prom is a perfect example of why we need to protect students from discrimination. In this case it’s a prom. It other cases, it’s getting beaten up or killed,” Polis said.
Polis said he was “dismayed” by the school board’s action.
“They ruined the prom, not only for this young woman, but for all of the straight kids at the school,” he said.
The school district had said it hoped a privately sponsored prom could be held. McMillen said if that happens, she’s sure she’ll be excluded.