Prom: No Lesbians Allowed

We all remember our senior proms.  Probably the most hyped up event of our lives before 20, we focus so much attention on having the “perfect prom.”  Personally, as one of those bitter-anti-cliché-too-cool-for-school kids in high school, I didn’t want to go to prom; the pressure of finding a date, the limo-drama, the $100 up-do that makes us look like “Toddlers in Tiara’s”…. but I went anyway, because we all remember our senior proms.  As Josie Gellar in “Never Been Kissed” reminded us, the word prom comes from promenade, and you can’t promenade alone.

A high school in Jackson, Mississippi is not so keen on their ballroom knowledge as they denied 18-year-old Constance McMillen the chance to promenade with her partner. Her lesbian partner.

According to the prom “rules” of this school, students may only be escorted by a date of the opposite sex.  Also violating “policy,” was McMillen’s preference to wear a tuxedo.  After fuss over her attempt to bend these discriminatory rules, the district canceled the prom.  McMillen is now suing her school district to reinstate the dance and to be allowed to attend with her girlfriend.

It is hard to believe that this issue, which has become nationally recognized, is even surfacing in the year 2010.  The concept seems completely bizarre.  Schools are supposed to educate.  They are supposed to prepare students for the future, and build them up to be positive contributing members of society.  How can this mission hold true, if they are supporting discrimination?  Not to mention, McMillen’s significant other is also a student at the school.  If both attend the school, both are allowed to go to the prom, how does the school even have a right to ban them from going “together?”

Around 10 states in the U.S. have laws that ban discrimination against gay and lesbian students.  Bills are being written to pass similar laws in other states.  While the spread of this movement may be beneficial to students in the future, it is the fact that we need such laws that is so disturbing.  Congress should not have to tell school districts that they cannot discriminate against students because of their sexual preference.  It is disheartening but realistic to believe that strides toward equality in this country are constantly being disrupted because of instances such as this.  We can only hope that underneath the gallons of hairspray, today’s generation of prom-goers can evolve to be more open-minded and accepting than those who precede us.

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  1. rajgore says:

    i would like to have sex with a hot female can any a sexy girl help me with 100 percent pleasure

  2. Lauren H- The New Sc says:

    When I went to prom a lot of the girls went with friends – not even romantically, they just brought girls as thier "dates" because their friends were too young to come… this is just ridiculous. ah, public school system.

  3. Karissa says:

    I completely agree. This whole thing is just ridiculous. I thought we were in the 21st century? Get on board Mississippi.

  4. Veronica says:

    When I went to my prom back in '06 there were probably 2 girls who wore tuxedos and no one had a problem with that and it was a public school. It just sucks that those people are so close minded. let those kids have their prom.

  5. Kristina says:

    This article has been turning up everywhere lately and I'm so thankful for that! This is ridiculous. 50 years ago, schools were banning interracial couples. How are our grandchildren going to view us in 50 years?

  6. Marla says:

    My high school wouldn't let same-sex couples go to prom, either, and that was just last year. Of course, that's in small-town Texas which usually means highly conservative views. It's ridiculous that some people can't seem to wrap their minds around the whole "everyone is equal, no matter what" thing. It's not like equality is a new idea, people have had plenty of time to understand what it should mean concerning society. Straight-up ignorance :

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  8. syd says:

    From a state that still has a few racially segregated proms, this is hardly shocking. >.< Recalling my prom, I can think of a couple of girls who brought other girls, and they weren't even lesbians….they just brought junior or sophomore female friends because hey, better to have a good friend along than be dateless or stuck with a guy you don't like, yeah? If I went to Catholic school and they were a-OK with it, a public school certainly shouldn't be so uptight. Two girls dancing together….who cares? That probably happens in droves at EVERY dance, with girls just goofing off or trying to look 'sexy.' If that's okay, why is this any LESS okay? They're not having lesbian sex on the dance floor or something, so NBD.

  9. criolle johnny says:

    Just to play "devil's advocate" …

    Nobody has a right to change Ms Constance. Nobody has a right to even TRY! Nobody has a right to change her ATTITUDE.

    So why does SHE have a right to change the entire community? Why do her rights trump an entire school's rights?

    "The tyranny of a multitude is a multitude of tyranny" … is the tyranny of ONE minority also tyranny? When is an imposition of one's values … an IMPOSITION? When is it freedom of expression?

    Let's have an intelligent debate. Hoping for better comments than "it sucks" and somebody's cheap efforts to get lucky.

  10. tj says:

    I do think it's wrong that she wasn't allowed to bring a girl as a date, but I think it's more wrong that it was made into a big enough deal to ruin prom for everyone. Whether she's to blame for that, or whether the school is, it's unfair.

  11. Tamara says:

    criolle johnny, what kind of right would she be violating by going with her girlfriend to prom?? Your "rights to a gay-free environment"? That does not make any sense; it's just like saying it's OK to ban colour people from something to protect "the rights of the community". It's just ridiculous.

  12. Erich says:

    You do realize that while you are on school grounds, you dont have any rights. You do not have freedom of expression (you cannot flip off the principal) You do not have the freedom of choice or the freedom of religion. Also, the school has a policy that states only be escorted by someone of the opposite sex.

    Not tryin to sound like a dick (no pun intended) IMHO– I think she should just suck it up. Life isnt always fair and the sooner you get that concept the better off you will be.

    The real world sees things how they want to. My question to her if advising her would be: Is it worth the fight? You must learn to choose your battles wisely.

    All that being said, if she does go thru with it, then I respect her decision (even if I dont agree with it) for the simple fact that she is standing up for something she believes in.

  13. criolle johnny says:

    Tamara, Erich and Grace … thanks for a polite arguments! All too often I get screeching and CAPITAL letters instead of debate. I placed my comment to stimulate conversation. We seem to be getting just a little.

    To restate, at what point is the entire community compromising THEIR values to allow one individual to state HERS? Is she imposing her values on them? If they don't have a right to impose their "gay-free" environment, does she have a right to impose her lifestyle "in-your-face"?

    When and where is such expression appropriate?

  14. VMM says:

    I agree with some of you because although it's messed up that she wont be able to attend her prom because she's a lesbian, there was no need to make this into the big deal that it has been made into. There are probably others that she could have dealt with this.

  15. Star says:

    Erich, you’re right about having limited rights at a public school but if people never stand up for equality and just suck it up all the time then nothing will ever change.

  16. Grace says:

    I doubt she’s the only lesbian to ever go to that high school, or who ever will. If she just “sucks it up” and doesn’t take a stand now, who will? I think what she did was really brave and it’s terrible that the school canceled the entire prom just because of that.

  17. Casey says:

    Criolle, I agree with you that it’s unfair that she is imposing her beliefs on a community where she is obviously the minority. If she “wins” it is forcing people to accept something that they disagree with, which is an imposition of their rights as well. I don’t care if you can’t use religion as an argument, Christianity is still a HUGE religion in this world and most Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, and for anyone to try to belittle a christian for their beliefs and try to “prove them wrong”, well that’s just as wrong as telling a homosexual that they are wrong, everyone has the right to their beliefs.

    What I can only assume will be argued here is that it doesn’t matter what the masses think, everyone deserves the same rights no matter what. Even if 5 million people disagree with her, she is still human and should have the same rights as everyone else.

    But she does have the same rights, she can choose any member of the opposite sex to take to the prom. If that is the school rule then that’s the rule EVERYONE must follow, not just her because she’s “different”. The school isn’t telling her that she can’t be a lesbian, they are just telling her that she must abide by the same rules as everyone else.

  18. Vanessa says:

    Do most christians thinks homosexuality is wrong? I'm a christian and so are some of my friends, and no one I know thinks that it is wrong. Of course I am from Milwaukee which is pretty liberal

  19. E says:

    @Vanessa yeah, most Christians believe it is wrong. I do, but that's not something I'm going to go into right now :)

    I think this issue is overblown. If they won't let her go to the prom with a girl then she should go with a boy and then do whatever she wants there.I think it's unfair for her to ruin the prom for everyone else just to make a statement. There are bigger battles like gay marriages and gay rights , not just prom…

  20. Tamara says:

    Of course this is a minor issue compared to gay marriage or really dangerous violence against gay people (like that man that murdered the guy who told him he loved him, remember that story?). It's just prom, I know, we all know. But it gives us the occasion to discuss something more interesting about gay rights, and about an issue gay people care a lot about: gay pride, and gay recognition.

    I find it odd that you guys think a lesbian couple is imposing their values on someone else just by showing they are lesbians: that's just too much discrimination. It's not OK to say "OK, you can be different, but you can't show it because we don't like to look at it". Many christians think to be jewish is a sin, too: does that mean they can prevent my sister (for example) from wearing a david star to a ball? Of course not, and if that was done, I don't know one single person that would defend the school. This is just the same thing. Imposing values would be the girl saying "you have to think homosexuality is right", but that's not what she's doing. You're allowed (misspelled, right?) to give her all the looks and prayers you want, just let her be who she is.

    And that brings me to my point about gay pride: according to Rawls and many others theorists of justice, every one has a right to self-respect, or pride. That means, a right to be proud and not ashamed about who you are: that girl is definitely being denied that right. Hegel also talks about the recognition: we all need to have others recognising who we are to construct our own identity. I have never heard anyone speaking about "a right to live in a world where noone's allowed to show they're different from me". That would be ridiculous.

  21. criolle johnny says:

    Tamara, you don't know "one single person" who would defend the school. That MIGHT be a problem.

    Google "I don't know anyone who voted for Nixon". (Nixon Quote)

    You're going to college and therefore only getting one side of the argument, the liberal side. You don't know anyone who would defend the school because you never hear any arguments from the other side expressed by opinion makes from the conservative side.

    Sorry if I pounced on this, but look at this board. How many conservative (or, GASP Libertarian!) views do you see?

    Is the girl imposing HER values on the community? How dare anyone ask that question?! At what point is someone exercising their rights and at what point does that become just a jerk being a loudmouth jerk? Is she pushing the issue just to tweak the neighbor's noses?

    Does a community have rights to its own values? If so, can one person impose his/her own values upon an entire community?

    Seeing the other side can sometimes be an enlightening experience.

  22. Mike Smith says:

    2 chicks slow dancing would be hot to watch.

  23. Austin Steve says:

    I see an abundant use of the phrase, “. . .impose her/their values. . .” in this discussion. Forgive me if I muddle this, but I’ll try state my opinion as clearly as I can.

    I believe this case is less about imposition of value as it is TOLERANCE of choice. Yes, school rules often run contrary to basic freedoms granted to US citizens, and with good reason. Institutions of education have a responsibility to provide an environment conducive to education and preparation for success in society, while doing so with mindset of limiting distracting factors from that goal.

    That being said, the question based on the decision of the school to cancel prom for all students becomes one of the following: “How does the public display of a lesbian couple at prom detract from the student body’s educational or social experience?”

    I think we can all agree that the existence of homosexuality isn’t likely to lower the average GPA or collegiate ambitions of most students. Further, tolerance for the gay and lesbian community to freely and peacefully practice their lifestyle is a widely accepted, legally protected, and Constitutionally granted right. I quote, “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    There are those who propose that God never intended for homosexuality to be an acceptable choice, but this ideology is a slippery slope that opens floodgates of debate as to interpretation of God’s desires for human kind. Our anthropological compromise has traditionally been one of tolerance towards all ideals and practices that do not compromise the safety or rights of others. This is, in fact, a founding principle of our society.

    In conclusion, there seems to be no reasonable indication that educational standards will be harmed by allowing an openly gay couple to attend prom. Furthermore, being that the homosexual community is a very real and affluent part of our world, to shy away from public recognition of gay and lesbian society is in fact detrimental to the preparation of students for the world beyond the boundaries of their individual communities. I can only conclude that the decision to cancel prom stems from placating a public mindset that stems from a moral judgment that is not shared by the vast majority of the country, and is counter intuitive to the very fiber of our beings as Americans.

    As far as this young lady simply “. . .sucking it up. . .”, and not pursuing the issue, I believe it was Edmund Burke who was credited with saying, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

  24. Peter says:

    wtf bastards… this is total discrimination! I cant even believe that the school did not allow it. It's unfair.


    Slovakia, Europe

  25. criolle johnny says:

    Mike and Peter have well thought-out, creative, intelligent arguments. They should run for Congress or become lobbyists.

  26. Tamara says:

    Read again what I said, Johnny: I don't know one single person that would defend the school if they banned jewish symbols. I don't thin McCain or Nixon voters would defend that, do you? What I meant by that is the same that people say when they compare the current attitude to gay marriage to the past attitude to interracial unions: it's already common sense that antisemitism or racism are bad. There is actually no difference between homophobia and racism, and hopefully, everyone will realize that in a couple of years. And about imposings values, it's the same thing: how would you feel if a girl was banned from bringing her black boyfriend to prom? Would you say she is "imposing her values" and the school has a right to do that? Please answer this to me, as this is what I meant when I said "I don't know one single person". I don't know anyone who's openly antisemite, though unfortunately, I know many homophobics.

    Also, I don't think there are no "right wing" voices in this site, although of course college people tend to be on the progressive side; but still, I read many conservative opinions here. Although, what you Americans call "progressive" is far on the right to what we call lefty in Latin America. In my school, if you're not plain socialist, you're a freakin conservative whore, so maybe that is the thing: what is "conservative" to me is liberal to you. Anyway, that is irrelevant: I not only go to college, I work, I do other stuff with very different kinds of people. So it's not like I never argue with different people.

  27. RIKO says:

    I think it's ridiculous that the school is now banning the prom because of this girl. She has become a scapegoat on which they can show their intolerance. Of course the whole school will hate her for ruining their prom

    Although i disagree with some comments here, there is a difference between homophobia and racism and trying to link the two is probably hurting the fight rather than helping it (aka gay is the new black, ick)

    But do some of you realize that not too long ago, some proms in this area were still segregated? I'll never understand backwards America and their stupid conservative views on issues like this and race. Just recently, parents at schools argued for segregation because they didn't want their children "exposed" to black people. While I feel that this type of discrimination is much worse than that against homosexuals, it's still not fair

  28. Tamara says:

    What is the difference between racism and homophobia, exactly? Why is one discrimination worse than another?

  29. criolle johnny says:

    Tamara, I'm really enjoying your comments. I did go back and re-read yours, my knee jerked again … sorry. For the record, my grandparents had an interracial marriage in Louisiana in the 1920's!

    You also have a point about "socialist … conservative whores" and the way that they're treated. There are only four communist governments left, Cuba, China, North Korea and your local college faculty lounge.

    A conservative can begin college and encounter a variety of opinions and really get an education. A progressive/liberal/socialist will encounter his/her OWN opinion, echoed by a plethora of parrots from freshman year through PhD. I think that is tragic. It deprives the student of the education for which s/he is (dearly) paying.

    As for "Would you say she is “imposing her values” and the school has a right to do that?" Yes.

    Contrary to your comments there are the usual "stupid conservative views" and other assorted name calling. This is for college and up, not middle school.

    Oh, Austin, TOLERANCE is the degree to which an individual part can vary from norm before it destroys the entire system. In a society, tolerance > acceptance > approval. You can go the other direction, I'd rather not just now.

    The difference between racism and homophobia is that no one has a choice of their skin color. The jury is still out on sexual orientation. Behavior can be used to justify discrimination. Religion can be used, try to attend a Scientology service.

    Glad people are talking. Even the tweens.

  30. RIKO says:

    You're not going to like this but I'll say it anyway

    First off, where did I say that one discrimination is worse than the other? Please pinpoint that to me and don't create subtext where there isn't any. I believe that racism and homophobia are both very important issues and discrimination in any form is unacceptable. Gay rights is definitely part of the civil rights movement. However to equate them is simplifying two different issues

    Second, I was not pleased at all with the way the gay community blamed Prop 8 passing on the African-American community, a community that was definitely not big enough to create this change. African Americans did not vote any differently than any other ethnic group (all to blame) yet once again they are used as a scapegoat

    Third, surprise surprise there is even racism in the homosexual community. Don't ask me how I know this, but I do for a fact. Even within the gay community, people of color are still discriminated against. So I find it hilarious when I'm at a gay pride parade, (particularly here in the south) and can still see a difference between where white homosexuals congregate and black homosexuals stay.

    Both issues are important, but they are not the same

  31. RIKO says:

    going back, apparently i did write that one is worse than the other. my bad

  32. Mike Smith says:

    Things were better when the closet door was closed.

  33. […] girlfriend to her prom.  Because of our networking capabilities, through Facebook, YouTube, blogs (including this one) etc, the news spread like wildfire.  The incident stirred uproar amongst our generation and […]

  34. Tamara says:

    Erich: first, glad you are enjoying the discussion. I am too.

    Second, I gave your last argument a lot of thought: I don't think sexual orientation is chocen, but even if it is…why does the argument that it is OK to discriminate against voluntary actions sound so wrong? And then I realized: because that asumption is just wrong! Discrimination against someone because of religion or political affiliation is banned by the Declaration of the Human Rights. Religion is a choice: I might have been born in a jewish family, but I am an atheist and I think of myself as that. Political affiliation is chocen too, and still the Human Rights Declaration prevent people from discriminating against others because of political values. What is the problem with discrimination? That it is arbitrary. Discrimination is not punishing someone for something unintentional, it's about punishing someone for something that might be intentional or not, but that doesn't deserve punishment. Being jewish, christian, a socialdemocrat, a libertarian or a republican doesn't deserve punishment (as long as one expresses his/her views in a violent or disrespectful way). The question here is: do you think being gay is something that deserves to be punished?

    RIKO: I think I understand what you mean. Of course there's racism on the gay community, I never said every gay person was a good or a democratic person, that would be ridiculous. I think what you're saying is that racism and homophobia are different sociological phenomenons, and I definitely agree: I was talking more about moral grounds, saying that in those grounds one discrimination is as bad as another. You happen to think that too, just had a little expression issue. Don't worry, it's the internet: we all write in a rush and then get misunderstood.

  35. Tamara says:

    (as long as one DOES NOT express…of course)

  36. criolle johnny says:

    RIKO, Owning up to a mistake takes courage. Nicely done.

  37. Miranda Stanford says:

    If Constance is going to speak her mind-so am I. I am from that “small-minded town in Jackson.” First off-we are no where near Jackson it is at least a three hour drive from here going the speed limit. Secondly, Constance is about three years younger than me, and I have known her for quite a long time. She is not a lesbian-if such a thing is not a choice, if it is really something you are born with-then she was not. She is bisexual. Just setting that straight..Now the only close minded people in Fulton are the really old ones-and HELLO-they are from a different time and are going to die soon anyways (as sad as that is). Constance had no intention to go to prom. Her girlfriend was not even allowed to go-not by the school board (who-by the way-said she could go but they could not make out at prom which is a rule for EVERYONE there not just gays/lesbians) but by her parents. She is a minor it is not yet her choice. For that matter- prom is an privileged and not a right. Constance was recently on the local news for one of her friends-Juin Baize. He was forced to change clothes because he was wearing drag to school. I agree that was wrong for the school to do. THEN and only then was it decided by Constance that she would go to prom. She had not paid for prom already (like the other students). She had not bought her “tuxedo”-this was a straight lie Constance is one of the most feminine dressed girls I know. And SHE went to the school officials with every intention to start some drama. My gay friends went to prom with their boyfriend/girlfriends. They danced with them, ate with them, and enjoyed their prom like everyone else. Constance wanted this publicity. If she really wanted to make a change she would be preparing for speeches, protest, rallies-she would be fighting for the issue! Not trying to receive sympathy!! EVERYONE there lost their school sponsored prom. She is out partying with Perez Hilton while everyone else is suffering for her need for attention! I am not, nor have I ever been a close minded person. I know some rednecks but I am not one of them. I am so sick of being described as such just because of where I grew up. No one here was persecuting or discriminating against Constance before this. Yet now we are the ones being persecuted for her actions. I stand up for the civil rights of every person. However, in her case-doing the right thing is simply not enough. You have to be doing them for the right reasons! No change will ever take place if she is not. Before you try to run your mouth and talk down about a group of people why don’t you try to figure out just a little bit more about who you are putting down!

  38. Austin Steve says:

    criolle johnny,

    Thanks you for your response to my admittedly long-winded evaluation. I do have a question for you, if I may.

    You stated, "Oh, Austin, TOLERANCE is the degree to which an individual part can vary from norm before it destroys the entire system. In a society, tolerance > acceptance > approval. You can go the other direction, I’d rather not just now."

    I was curious as to what system was being destroyed?

    Thank you for your time.

  39. mustang says:

    This girl did not decide to ruin the prom. All she wanted was to be able to go to the prom with the person of her choice, a girl who she loves. She was not the one who decided that the prom should be cancelled, it was the school board directors. It was their choice to ruin it for everyone, because they didn't want a lesbain couple attending.

    It is 2010 and discrimination is unacceptable. Even high school students have rights.

  40. […] me hope that one day – in my lifetime – we will live in a country that doesn’t ban gay couples from prom; doesn’t oppress millions of innocent people; gives everyone the right to love who they want […]

  41. I think times are changing now in Europe. People are getting more open minded and tolerant, which I think is a really good thing.

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