Opinion: Lesbian Teens Have Every Right to Attend Prom

Filed under: Opinions

In Mississippi, the Itawamba County school board told 18-year-old Constance McMillen that she was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom, nor could she wear a tuxedo, only a dress. In doing so, they violated her First-Amendment rights.

This is basic discrimination. There was a time in our nation's history when black people were not allowed to dance in public with whites. Most Americans now see how wrong that was. This case is no different.

Just like when a teacher in New Orleans told a student last month that he was not allowed to wear an Indianapolis Colts jersey to school, Constance McMillen is being told that she may only express herself in a way that is approved by others.

That is the opposite of free speech.
Although this case is more serious than a football jersey, the principles are the same. If you support the rights of one group, you must support them for everyone. If straight students can choose whom they want to bring to a school-sponsored event, gay students must be able to do the same.

Constance McMillen was not interested in publicity. When she and her fellow students were informed, in writing, that any guests they brought to the prom "must be of the opposite sex," she had a private meeting with her principal to discuss the issue. After school officials reiterated their policy on the prom, the girl rightly contacted the ACLU, who felt it was necessary to sue the school.

Constance is not a rabble rouser. There is no "gay agenda" being followed here. She is a girl who would like to bring her date to the prom. The fact that her date happens to be a girl is irrelevant.

Since I strongly believe in respecting other people's views, I thought that there must be a reason why people charged with educating children would behave in such a reprehensible manner.

Other than the crazy conspiracy theories espoused by Steve Crampton of the Liberty Council, who said that this was "part of a larger agenda to implement homosexual rights in the schools," the best I could come up with was what Constance says she was told by her principal -- that seeing two girls dancing together, one dressed in a tuxedo, could make her fellow students "uncomfortable."

Since when is it acceptable to discriminate against someone in order to make someone else feel comfortable? No one -- not Constance McMillen, not the attorneys from the ACLU -- is saying that anyone has to like the fact that some people in this country are gay. Date who you want to date, and allow others the same privilege. Just because I'm lactose-intolerant doesn't mean I want to ban cheese.

In a way, my position is best summed up by a comment I don't even agree with. "Amanda" writes on ParentDish that she believes "homosexuality is completely wrong," but adds that "the way the school handled this situation is a complete violation of this girl's rights."

In other words, it doesn't matter how you feel about gay people. You can think that homosexuality is a sin. You even have the right to think two girls dancing together is weird.

But as long as other kids are going to the prom with dates, no one has the right to stop Constance and her date from this important rite of passage.

Chances are, this upheaval will become a bigger rite of passage than anyone at Itawamba ever imagined.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.