Friday, March 12, 2010

They Chose...Poorly

Constance McMillen, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School, just wanted to go to the prom with her significant other. What makes Ms. McMillen's desire slightly unusual is that her significant other is also a woman. Plus, McMillen wanted to wear a tuxedo instead of the usual gown. That's nice, you might think, but what's the big deal? I agree. This shouldn't be newsworthy. Oh wait...Itawamba Agricultural High School is in rural Mississippi. Uh-oh.

Naturally, the school immediately denied McMillen's request to dress in a tux and take someone of the same sex as a date, saying it was against the rules. Then the ACLU became involved and tried informally to encourage the school administrators to rethink their position. In response, the school took the most reasonable route possible: they cancelled prom...for everyone. Their reason?

"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."

The district school board also said that their decision took "into consideration the education, safety and well-being of our students."

Of course, the school wasn't shy about who caused this decision, and now McMillen is in the uncomfortable position of being the one "responsible" for ruining that class's senior year. Now the ACLU is formally suing the school district for infringement of McMillen's free speech.

I know this is in rural Mississippi, so it's not exactly the most progressive of lands, but how does this make any sense? Sure, some parents would have definitely been outraged with the open display of "the gay" in their precious, God-fearing community, but does that mean the entire senior class has to suffer? Wouldn't it have been far easier on everyone if the school just turned a blind eye to the whole thing? The night would have passed with a few snide remarks from students and perhaps a handful of angry phone calls from parents that following Monday, but then everyone would forget about it and move on with their lives. Instead, the school has made sure no one will forget about it, and the district will now have to pay a fortune in legal fees, all in an attempt to preserve the fiction that gays don't exist.

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