Mississippi’s Homophobic Prom
High schools around the country are currently preparing for the event that many students look forward to their entire high school careers: prom. But this year, there will be no prom for the Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi. Why?
School officials and school board members canceled the prom in order to prevent a lesbian student, 18-year-old Constance McMillen, from attending with her girlfriend.
After initially trying to ban just Constance and her date – an action that drew the threat of a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – the school decided to cancel the event for everyone rather than let the lesbian couple attend. That’s right. No gay couples. No straight couples. No prom.
In response, people across the country have mobilized in support of Constance, who throughout this ordeal has stood up unashamed for who she is – and become a national hero for LGBT rights in the process. She now has hundreds of thousands of Facebook fans, and businesses volunteering to hold alternative proms for all Itawamba students to celebrate her courage in the face of discrimination.
There are also thousands of people taking action on Change.org, demanding that the Itawamba Agricultural High School change course and become a place where all students can enjoy events like prom – not just the straight ones. You can take action here.
As shocking as this episode is, the homophobia experienced by Constance is nothing new inside America’s schools. Nationwide, nearly 90 percent of gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students report that they’ve been victims of verbal abuse in school, and more than 40 percent say they’ve been physically harassed.
That’s why one of the few openly gay members of Congress, Rep. Jared Polis, is trying to move forward a piece of legislation known as the Student Non-Discrimination Act, which would move our schools one step closer to becoming safe spaces for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. You can help support his effort here.
If you would like to take action on this situation please go to the following link.