Refusal to allow lesbian prom date a retrograde

A lawsuit is pending over a Mississippi student who wanted to take her girlfriend to the prom and prompted the school to cancel the entire event rather than deal with allowing the couple to attend. Students are in an uproar over not being able to have their senior prom, and now the American Civil Liberties Union has gotten involved as well.

I think it goes without saying that this is utterly ridiculous. In a time when we are passing laws for gays to marry, seeing same-sex couples become parents and raising our kids without prejudice, this is a travesty indeed.

I wonder what would have happened had this young woman simply shown up to the prom with her girlfriend on her arm. Would school officials have kicked her out? Either way the school would be looking at a lawsuit. These are important times, and each case can be a landmark one.

A memo was reportedly sent out to students on Feb. 5 stating that their prom dates had to be of the opposite sex. The ACLU says this action violates the students’ rights to “freedom of expression.” The superintendent said the decision to make students bring opposite-sex partners was to protect the students’ safety and well-being. Since when it is unsafe for a lesbian couple to attend the prom?

We live in a world where things happen that we may not like. However, that doesn’t give others the right to say we can’t do or say certain things, wear certain clothes, or date certain people. That is a thread that shouldn’t be pulled. Are school officials going to say people of certain religions can’t attend the prom? Certain political parties? Specific ethnicities? Who gets to make that call and why?

This is 2010, and barriers are being broken all the time. This should be another one that gets demolished. The kind of prejudice being perpetuated against this young woman by these school officials is just not right. We hear horror stories about the way gay kids are treated and bullied at school. Why not let these students know that everyone isn’t against them, that it’s OK to be who they are? How many Lifetime movies about homosexual teenagers being bullied and even killed will it take? How many news stories about teenagers committing suicide or refusing to go to school because of the way they are treated are necessary?

Who is really affected if this young woman brings another young woman to the prom? It probably would have caused a lot less attention than a federal lawsuit! A federal judge heard the case on Monday and ruled that although the young woman’s rights were violated by prohibiting her to bring a girl to the prom, but he said he couldn’t force the superintendent to hold the prom. However, the case will go to trial, and it is to be hoped that there is a result before the scheduled prom date of April 2.

The principal of the school claims he has been “bombarded” with e-mails that have been largely critical of the school’s behavior, according to The Associated Press. This outrage should be an indicator of how ridiculous many people think this situation is. I’m sure most students would rather have their prom than let the school superiors make some ethical point that will likely be missed in all the hoopla.

At least the students know that it’s wrong to advocate this type of discrimination, and it should be a lesson to the school board, as well. Gay teenagers have enough to deal with on a daily basis. Their lives shouldn’t be made even harder.

Christi Aldridge is a senior strategic communication major from Hillsboro.