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Community Comment

Sat., March 13, 2010, 6:26 a.m.

Not in my school you don’t? You should!

AP Photo
 (Matthew Sharpe / Associated Press)
AP Photo (Matthew Sharpe / Associated Press)

Good morning, Netizens...

When I read the piece on the AP wire earlier this week about the young woman, an avowed lesbian, who wanted to take her girlfriend to her senior prom and they canceled the prom I sat upright in my chair. Then I learned she had lawyered up and sued to force her Mississippi School District to reinstate the dance. The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi on Thursday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oxford on behalf of 18-year-old Constance McMillen, who said she faced some unhappy classmates after the Itawamba County School District said it wouldn't host the April 2 prom.

"Somebody said, 'Thanks for ruining my senior year,'" McMillen said of her reluctant return Thursday to Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton.

The lawsuit seeks a court order for the school to hold the prom. It also asks that McMillen be allowed to escort her girlfriend, who is a fellow student, and wear a tuxedo, which the school said also violated policy. Oh? I thought wearing a tux to the prom was purportedly a cool thing to do.

The district's decision Wednesday came after the ACLU demanded that officials change a policy banning same-sex prom dates because it said it violated students' rights. The ACLU said the district violated McMillen's free expression rights by not letting her wear a tux.

McMillen said she didn't want to go back to the high school in Fulton the morning after the decision, but her father told her she needed to face her classmates.

"My daddy told me that I needed to show them that I'm still proud of who I am," McMillen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The fact that this will help people later on, that's what's helping me to go on."

McMillen says she hopes her fight will make it easier for gay students at other schools facing discrimination.

Southside Baptist Church Pastor Bobby Crenshaw said he's seen the South portrayed as "backwards" on Web sites discussing the issue, "but a lot more people here have biblically based values."

Itawamba County is a rural area of about 23,000 people in north Mississippi near the Alabama state line. It's near Pontotoc County, Miss., where more than a decade ago school officials were sued in federal court over their practice of student-led intercom prayer and Bible classes.

Now the hard questions. If you were the parent(s) of a young woman who announced she wanted to attend her Senior Prom in a tux with her significant other would you have the courage to support her, as did McMillen's father? Do student rights include same-sex prom dates?

I submit times are changing/have changed. I'd wager the courts will support McMillen, as well they should.


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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.