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Author Topic: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student  (Read 2553 times)

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Offline SecretwriterTopic starter

Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« on: March 12, 2010, 06:14:44 AM »
http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2010/03/11/prom-canceled-over-lesbian-student/

Full story at CNN -> http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/03/11/mississippi.prom.suit/index.html


A Mississippi High School faces a lawsuit over its decision to cancel its prom rather than allow a lesbian high school student attend with her girlfriend.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleges that officials at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, are violating the student's First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

The ACLU asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi to reinstate the prom.

"All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student. But my school would rather hurt all the students than treat everyone fairly," said the student, 18-year-old Constance McMillen, in an ACLU news release. "This isn't just about me and my rights anymore – now I'm fighting for the right of all the students at my school to have our prom."

Officials at the Itawamba County School District were not immediately available for comment.

Offline Wolfy

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2010, 08:35:46 AM »
At least it wasn't in Kansas. O_o

But yeah..that's messed up.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2010, 09:49:19 AM »
You know, back when I was in high school, there were people - girls and boys - who went 'stag' to the prom in groups.  Sometimes they found someone to hook up with, sometimes they didn't.  But regardless, there was no requirement to 'present partner of opposite gender' at the door to get in.

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Offline Jude

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2010, 11:55:58 AM »
Something similar happened at my high school prom, though I didn't go so I only have second-hand information.

Basically a guy showed up with his boyfriend wearing a dress and they were forced to leave, plus he was suspended.  No one made a big deal out of it oddly and although there was some student protesting, no lawyers or news outlets stepped in.

To this day I still don't know what to make of it.  Obviously what they did was wrong, but I'm not sure why schools are sponsoring dances and crap anyway.  Academics are lacking enough in this country without adding distractions and nonsense ontop of it.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2010, 06:51:57 PM by Jude »

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2010, 12:59:01 PM »
heh yea that school is near where I live and sadly news like that is regular news around here.

But hey on the upside, last year a high school in Georgia had it's first inter-racial prom!


Offline OldSchoolGamer

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2010, 06:36:48 PM »
You know something's whacked out of alignment when kids act more mature than the school board.


Offline TheLegionary

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2010, 02:50:38 PM »
what impresses me most is the capacity the press has of distorting the focus of the problems to this kind of secondary, incidental issues... I bet there were more serious matters in that school...

Offline CCgirlie19

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2010, 07:46:23 PM »
I got so upset when I read this the other day.  Banning Prom b/c of this! Honestly what does the school board expect to achieve teaching the students not to excepting of race or sexual preference or even that stupid incident where the kid was banned from school b/c he had long hair! I agree things are bad when the students are more tolerant and accepting than the previous generation.

Offline Merlyn

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2010, 10:19:55 PM »
Well given the area of the country that this is taking place in, it may have been mainly due to a concern for safety to cancel it rather than allow the girl to go.  (Even as wrong as it might be.)  It's not necessarily about the school board not accepting or allowing it, they have to take into consideration what the other parents would say/due with the situation.  Now, I am not claiming to know much about that particular area, but I do know many places where intolerance is the norm and standard practice to this day.  Hell, in many areas of the country the confederate battle flag is still flown with pride. (Not to say that is the case in Mississippi)  Now, if they had to look at it as, 'Do we let this female couple go and risk having community members turn it into a possibly violent demonstration, or do we simply shut it down since the ACLU is saying you have to let her go with her girlfriend or not let anyone go' it wouldn't be a very hard decision to say it's canceled.

Offline Tribalz

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2010, 02:54:39 AM »
Well given the area of the country that this is taking place in, it may have been mainly due to a concern for safety to cancel it rather than allow the girl to go.  (Even as wrong as it might be.)  It's not necessarily about the school board not accepting or allowing it, they have to take into consideration what the other parents would say/due with the situation.  Now, I am not claiming to know much about that particular area, but I do know many places where intolerance is the norm and standard practice to this day.  Hell, in many areas of the country the confederate battle flag is still flown with pride. (Not to say that is the case in Mississippi)  Now, if they had to look at it as, 'Do we let this female couple go and risk having community members turn it into a possibly violent demonstration, or do we simply shut it down since the ACLU is saying you have to let her go with her girlfriend or not let anyone go' it wouldn't be a very hard decision to say it's canceled.

Mhmm, that is one of the reasons, of that I'm sure; hell, I bet the board of governors at the school was made up by parents too, so the school itself was caught between a rock and a hard place; Course, whether they were just the mountain in the middle is yet to be seen. Y'see, this is why parents should be more or less ignored in the school system. Despite wanting the best for little Jack and Jill, they often know absolutely nothing about how education should work. Please, leave that to the experts.

Offline Neroon

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2010, 07:13:05 AM »
Mhmm, that is one of the reasons, of that I'm sure; hell, I bet the board of governors at the school was made up by parents too, so the school itself was caught between a rock and a hard place; Course, whether they were just the mountain in the middle is yet to be seen. Y'see, this is why parents should be more or less ignored in the school system. Despite wanting the best for little Jack and Jill, they often know absolutely nothing about how education should work. Please, leave that to the experts.

As a teacher and a parent of sixteen year old girl, I think I have to take exception to this.  Not all parents are clueless about the system and not all teachers are that knowledgeable about their students.

Having experienced school from all possible perspectives (except that of a school inspector) I've seen stupidity on a grand scale and it doesn't just come from parents.  Teachers know the system very well, but at secondary level, they can't know the children anywhere near as well as the parents do.  When you teach, as I do, ten classes of an average of thirty students each for about three hour each per week aged from 11 to 19, you simply don't spend enough time with them to get to know all of them that well.  You get to know some students well, but by no means every student.  As a result, sometimes decisions are made which adversely affect some students because the teachers don't realise the consequences.  That happens almost as often as parents try and insist on something stupid too.

That's why school governors are made up with ex officio members from the school senior management, the local education authority, the local council and elected members from the parents, the teaching staff and the non-teaching staff as well as various co-opted members who can bring particular skills to the board.  It ensures there is generally a good balance there.  Of course, the really daft ideas come from the local councillors, who are politicians and therefore automatically likely to vacillate to the disctates of publicity.

I would like to pick out something Jude mentioned earlier about whether schools should have proms or not.  In my experience, they are a major pain in the arse and it's marginal whether the social benefits of them outweigh the difficulties.  Increasingly, I've observed a form of prom inflation going on, whereby each year wants to outdo the previous year's prom.  So this year, the current crop are holding their prom on a barge in the Thames under Tower Bridge.  Not so bad, you might think, until you realise that the school is almost two hours away from central London.  It means that on top of the cost of the tickets (about £60 each) there is an additional £40 in train fair (I shudder to think what the cost of a limo to do the journey would be, but no doubt some will try and hire one) and then all of the suit hire/dress hire charges.  Given that a lot of these kids are from poor families, this is incredibly socially divisive.

Worse, however, is the fact that these events are policed by teachers in their own unpaid time.  That's not so much of a bad thing but then you have to look at all of the aggravation of trying to stop the underage drinking (inevitably someone tries to bring some booze in) and dealing with said underage drinking's consequences.  I dislike clearing up vomit at the best of times.  It's worse when you know that afterward you're going to have to deal with some irate parent complaining that you let their pride and joy get drunk.  Explaining that the apple of their eyes brought the booze themselves and made sure it was hidden when we checked them for it is not easy.  Adding the fact that this is going to happen on a barge in the deep water part of the Thames, there is then the whole possible horror of one of them drowning accidentally.

As I said, bloody stupid, the whole thing.  I'm not a killjoy here, but sometimes, I really hanker after the simplicity of the late seventies and early eighties school disco (on school premises) in which the worse that was likely to happen was a somewhat uncoordinated fumble behind the bike sheds.

Offline Cherri Tart

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2010, 03:08:15 PM »
oh, i posted this elsewhere, but since it applies, i hope no one minds if i add it to this thread as well...
 
Constance McMillen is a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi. When she asked the school if she could attend prom with her girlfriend, she was told no. When McMillen pressed her case, the Itawamba County School Board canceled prom rather than allow her to attend with her girlfriend. The school board had to know what would happen next: other students at Itawamba Agricultural blamed Constance for getting prom canceled and "ruining senior year." Constance is now being harassed and bullied.

Last week the ACLU filed a lawsuit on McMillen's behalf in U.S. District Court in Oxford, seeking a court order forcing the school board to reinstate the prom and to allow McMillen to attend with her girlfriend, a fellow student, and to wear a tuxedo, something the board also claimed was against school policy.

But more can be done. The school board claims it canceled prom to avoid "distractions." Now it's up to us—to decent people everywhere—to make sure that bigotry and discrimination are a much bigger distraction for the Itawamba County School District than inclusion and tolerance ever could've been.

E-mail, call, and fax Itawamba Schools superintendent Teresa McNeece (tmcneece@itawamba.k12.ms.us, phone 662-862-2159 ext. 14, fax 662-862-4713) and Itawamba Agricultural principal Trae Wiygul (twiygul@itawamba.k12.ms.us, 662-862-3104). Then join the Facebook page "Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom." And finally, make donations to the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (mssafeschools.org), which is organizing an alternate prom that will welcome all students, and make a larger donation to the ACLU LGBT Project (tinyurl.com/yl9mvkb), which is defending not just McMillen but other gay and lesbian teenagers across the country.

Call, write, fax, donate. Constance McMillen needs to know that there are people all over the world who are on her side. And, more important, Itawamba County Schools need to know that we're not going to let them get away with this. Be respectful, but be relentless. Let's show these bigots what distraction looks like. Get 'em.

Offline Jude

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2010, 06:57:59 PM »
I don't think it's at all fair to call them bigots.  Basically they had 3 choices:

1)  Let the Lesbian and her partner go and be seen as supporting gay rights.

2)  Ban the Lesbian and her partner from going and be seen as opposing the legitimacy of homosexual couples.

3)  Cancel prom and take no stance.

This was the only way to resolve the problem while remaining impartial on gay rights, I don't see what they did wrong, in fact I think it's their duty as unelected government employees to make decisions which respect the political views of the electorate as long as their actions don't jeopardize their job.  If anything, they made the right choice when it comes to the practical reality of academics.

It seems wholly unfair to pretend that they did (1) by doing (3) which is what I see a lot of commentators and news outlets doing.

Offline Cherri Tart

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2010, 09:40:12 PM »
My take on the issue. 

1)  Let the Lesbian and her partner go and be seen as supporting gaycivil rights.

Sorry, but really, lets replace lesbian with ANY other minoriy, african-american, asian, hispanic and see how people react. 

 


Offline HairyHeretic

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #15 on: March 22, 2010, 01:33:59 PM »
3)  Cancel prom and take no stance.

Do you honestly believe that canceling the prom was them not taking a stance?

Offline Stan'

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2010, 06:19:08 AM »
Quote
Sorry, but really, lets replace lesbian with ANY other minoriy, african-american, asian, hispanic and see how people react.

Lesbians and Asians or African-Americans aren't the same thing.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2010, 07:05:10 AM »
No, they aren't.  However, they are all protected minorities.  What do you think the reaction would be if the headline read 'Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Black Student'?

Offline Trieste

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2010, 10:07:07 PM »
Did anyone see this?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/constance-mcmillen-fake-p_n_525856.html

A fake prom? Really? Is this a hoax?

Offline The Golden Touch

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2010, 10:23:13 PM »
I wish it was, but it really, really isn't.... ><;

Offline Oniya

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Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2010, 11:13:14 PM »
Quote
Two students with learning difficulties were among the seven people at the country club event, McMillen recalls. "They had the time of their lives," McMillen says. "That's the one good thing that come out of this, [these kids] didn't have to worry about people making fun of them [at their prom]."

I think I would have rather gone to the 'fake' prom. 

Offline The Golden Touch

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2010, 11:38:20 PM »
It is albeit sad that the adults of their county would do such a thing.  Sigh...

Offline Revolverman

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2010, 10:14:49 AM »
Did anyone see this?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/constance-mcmillen-fake-p_n_525856.html

A fake prom? Really? Is this a hoax?


Stay Classy Mississippi, stay classy.

Offline Aiden

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2010, 10:44:25 AM »
Has there been a full investigation over the fake prom incident? If they find that adults did all the underhanded planning to alienate the girl that I think I would be more upset than if the kids decided to have their own prom. As a teenager, if I had found out my prom was canceled over one person's (righteous cause or not) "crying", I would have excluded her/him as well.

Offline Jude

Re: Mississippi School Cancels Prom over Lesbian Student
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2010, 03:41:21 PM »
Has there been a full investigation over the fake prom incident? If they find that adults did all the underhanded planning to alienate the girl that I think I would be more upset than if the kids decided to have their own prom. As a teenager, if I had found out my prom was canceled over one person's (righteous cause or not) "crying", I would have excluded her/him as well.
I don't know if it's true or not, but supposedly there's a letter from one of the kids who attended the other event floating around (it's posted on the comments to the story on the Huffington Post, I think).

In the letter they claim that they decided not to go to the event and instead hold another one, because they just wanted "a few hours to remember the good times they had the last 3 years in high school without the drama."  I don't think that necessarily reflects any better on them, in fact I think I would've respected them more if they discluded her on grounds of personal principles rather than for purely selfish reasons.

Sounds to me like the more popular kids basically peeled off and had a private event instead of attending the public prom, not so much that there was a fake prom, and that the people who attended the other one simply didn't have friends/connections enough to hear about it.  The Huffington Post jumps to a lot of conclusions and assumes a great deal of things in their covering of the story, that's for sure.  It wasn't necessarily a "fake-prom" and the emphasis on the discluded special-needs kids is kind of drawing a link that may not have been there.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 03:44:21 PM by Jude »