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.