Mississippi: Where tolerance goes to die

Constance McMillen, an eighteen year old high school student living in Fulton, Mississippi, was looking forward to her senior prom like all of her classmates. She had her outfit all picked out, and she and her date were ready to go. Unfortunately for the bigots in the school administration, Constance McMillen just happened to be gay. Naturally, rather than implicitly condoning this public display of love all other students have a right to, the Itawamba County School District decided to cancel the entire prom. According to the district:

Due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events, the Itawamba County School District has decided to not host a prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School this year,” school board members said in a statement.

Yes, Constance’s constitutional right to free expression is a distraction, so rather than accommodating this brazen display of non-heteronormative individuality, the school has used her as an excuse to cancel the whole thing. I don’t know the details of this county’s social scene (although apparently the social hub is a bowling alley!), but in my high school, the prom was the most important event in all of high school. The school’s decision to pin this cancellation squarely on the fags only adds to the incredible hostility already found throughout the deep south.

Constance had this to say about the event:

All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student. But my school would rather hurt all the students than treat everyone fairly

According to the US Census data, about 96% of folks in Itawamba county affiliated with a congregation are evangelicals. Furthermore, about 92% of all people living in Itawamba county are ‘exclusively white’, and homosexual tolerance from  these folks has historically been pretty crap. Hell, Mississippi was one of the states that attempted to ban gay adoption, so these sort of ridiculously homophobic attitudes are none-too-surprising.

In an even more disgusting move, the school simultaneously called for a private prom to be held in lieu of the school sponsored one. This would allow them the ability to keep the homos out while still satisfying their view of what a proper human being ought to be. The school, who does after all, represent the government in the area, is setting an example of how responsible adults ought to act when faced with such a threat to the status quo as this young woman represents.

Thankfully, the ACLU  has been closely following the case, and today filed suit against the county, hoping to reinstate the prom for everyone. Christine Sun, who will represent Constance in the upcoming lawsuit, said this:

It’s shameful and cowardly of the school district to have canceled the prom and to try to blame Constance, who’s only standing up for herself. We will fight tooth and nail for the prom to be reinstated for all students

It is a sad statement of the times that these folks require the ACLU to force them to do the right thing. Jesus himself sat down with the most marginalized members of his society and showed incredible compassion for all of them, but the bigotry of these Christian school board members is so strong that they must ruin the party for everyone just to continue their hate of one innocent girl who just wants to go to her prom like all her friends.

Shame on you, Itawamba Agricultural High School. I hope your pending destruction at court will teach you something, but I know better. Your students deserve better role models than you, so I’m glad corageous heroes like Constance McMillen are there.


~ by Andrew on March 11, 2010.

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