Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Lesbian Prom*

I am sure by now most of you are familiar with the prom fiasco taking place at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi. On February 5th of this year, the school issued a memorandum to students and parents as a reminder that all prom dates must be of the opposite sex. Eighteen year-old senior Constance McMillen had already planned on dressing in a tuxedo and bringing another female student to the prom as a date. Upon the memo’s release, she met with school officials to make her plans known. Eventually she gained an audience with Superintendent, Teresa McNeece, who informed her that only male students could wear tuxedos and both she and her date could be ejected from the prom if any of the other students complained about their presence there.
After striking out with the superintendent, McMillen contacted the ACLU who met with school officials to try and persuade them to change their stance. Following this meeting, the school decided to cancel the prom altogether by issuing the following statement:
"Due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events, the Itawamba County School District has decided to not host a prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School this year."
They claimed to come to this decision after "taking into consideration the education, safety and well-being of our students.”
Local resident Eric Reyna eloquently expressed his support of the board’s decision to a local new channel:
“When we send our kids to school, we want them to attend a function such as this that's moral and stuff, there's immorality there. What about our rights? About being able to go into a place and still maintain, you know, morality.”
There are several items that I find puzzling:
·         I have never heard of a school specifically issuing a pre-prom memorandum to remind the student body of what constitutes “a couple.” This means that school officials were aware of Constance’s plans before she announced them and intended to specifically ostracize her or bring the issue to a head.

·         Why did the school board cite the “safety and well-being” of the students in their release? Are Constance and her girlfriend members of an unusually violent sect of lesbians? Are there documented cases of heterosexual fatalities if two women slow dance?

·         Why are all of the citizens worried that the presence of two students is going to remove the morality of the prom? How moral are the proms in Mississippi? Most high school proms consist of overdressed hormonal teenagers attempting to convince their dates that a few Mike’s Hard Lemonades back at the La Quinta Inn executive suite won’t hurt them. I am not sure that Constance’s absence would allow them to revert back to their original prom agenda of prayer circles and Bible Trivia.
·         Who cares if she wants to wear a tuxedo? If we were honest with ourselves, many of us would rather have seen some of our female classmates in tuxedos rather than a sequined evening gown with an inappropriately plunging neckline.

·         This is a public high school, hosting a school event, on school grounds and as far as I am concerned they have no legal standing to prevent two students from attending regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. It is disingenuous for the local school system to demand Constance’s adherence to what they consider socially acceptable just because it makes them uncomfortable. It is apparent that she is guilty of nothing more than being a lesbian in Mississippi.
I do believe that there is a bright side to all of this for both Constance and the entire senior class. A hotel owner in New Orleans has offered to host the entire prom free of charge in his swanky ballroom. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for these seniors to be the one graduating class not to endure another “Jesus Take The Wheel” themed prom in the Itawamba Agricultural High School’s cafeteria.
As for the citizens concerned with what’s “moral and stuff,” perhaps there are more pressing issues in America than who Constance McMillen chooses to slow dance with. But that’s just a thought……

*For those of you wondering, the title of this post was a shameless attempt to generate more traffic for my blog on Google.

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