Schools should permit same-sex prom dates

A classmate told lesbian Constance McMillen that she ruined her senior year.


A Mississippi school district canceled McMillen's senior prom rather than allow her to take her girlfriend as a date and wear a tuxedo.

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The American Civil Liberties Union told the school district that a policy banning same-sex prom dates violated students' rights. Forbidding McMillen from donning a tuxedo violated her free expression rights, according to a March 11 Associated Press report.


Believe it or not, classmates were furious with McMillen, even though she was the one who faced discrimination.


Students approached McMillen with resentment and bitterness. They couldn't go to prom because McMillen spoke out against her school. It would be presumptuous to think that all of McMillen's classmates blamed her for this incident, but it's disheartening to know that McMillen was the subject of even minimal harassment in the aftermath of this event.


Why would schoolmates automatically fault McMillen, who was just trying to exercise her right to attend prom? So what if she wanted to take another girl?


A Feb. 5 memo to students laid out the rules for prom dates, and one requirement was that the person must be of the opposite sex.


Women all over the country take other females to prom, and this doesn't always mean that they're lesbians. Girls escort each other to homecoming, dances and prom if they're single and don't want to go alone.


If you're a young lady in high school, it can really sting if no one asks you to prom. Close girl friends can take each other and not feel so upset about the fact that they didn't attend with a significant other or considerate male friend. Those who do go to prom as legitimate lesbians and gays should be treated the same as heterosexual couples.


The school district seemed to be more concerned with the fact that McMillen asked to sport a tuxedo instead of a prom dress. Even if McMillen wanted to essentially cross dress, she would be hurting no one with this decision. Students have the option of averting their eyes if a woman dressed in a suit truly disturbs them.


If that's enough to upset a group of people, they should travel to San Francisco, New York or another metropolis and actually expose themselves to the gay lifestyle. Then they would they see that homosexuals can be some of the most compassionate, nice individuals on this planet, and they've become this way because they know what adversity is like, and they try to be understanding and warm in an unforgiving world.


It's truly a shame that McMillen had to miss out on her prom, which is something that everyone hears about and imagines throughout childhood. At age 10, could McMillen have guessed that she'd one day be denied a prom based on her sexual identity and desire to wear nontraditional attire?


More than likely, the school prom was canceled because the district didn't want to deal with freedom of expression violations for one student, so they canned the event entirely. Instead of approaching her with sympathy, her classmates scolded McMillen because they couldn't have a prom, and they felt robbed. They should have instead questioned the values of their institution. McMillen didn't even want to go back to her high school and face the other students, but her father encouraged her to stay strong and endure, and she has been doing just that.


Schools all over the country should, without hesitation, authorize same-sex prom dates. Sure, the gay community isn't accepted everywhere, and perhaps certain parts of the country would be uncomfortable with homosexual public displays of affection, but this is something that everyone must get over. It's deplorable enough that the majority of the states do not allow gay marriage, and it's astounding that some places can't even let two girls to go to prom together. So much for a socially evolved society.



—Laura Donovan is a creative writing senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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