High School in Mississippi Cancels Prom to Prevent Lesbian Student from Bringing Female Date—and Potentially Incites Violence Against Lesbian Student

Comments

1
Where's Morgan Freeman?
2
For sure "let her have it".
That will surely make them love the lesbians...
3
Um, Why'd she ask for permission?
4
In the 1960's, Leesburg VA was required to desegregate its public pool. Their response was to hire a bulldozer and fill it in with dirt. Even in the late 1970's, there was a restaurant on the main street where all of the tables were "reserved". Even if the restaurant was empty, there was never a table there for certain "walk-in" customers.
5
This was a brilliant move by the bigots. Now they can blame gays for canceling prom. Many of those high school students will grow up to blame gays for the rest of their life for ruining one of the fondest memories of childhood. Damn those bigots are a bunch of crafty bastards.
6
Wow - I was really surprised that I got through on the phone. I left about a 1.5 minute voice mail asking how this was in the best interest of the students, and reminding her that this was discrimination, and would promote bullying and hate against gay students in her district, and that we would figure out a way to sue here in spite of her tricks.

Come on....call....it is totally worth it to hear her crazy southern accent on the voice mail ;D
7
The school district is punishing this girl for being a lesbian. Anyone with half a brain could foresee the fallout this girl will receive from them canceling Prom. She will be tormented from now until graduation because it was "her fault" prom was canceled. This is an extremely petty act on the the part of the school district and I just hope that nothing truly horrible happens to this girl in the next few months. If it does, the school will be to blame.
8
Tweeted her e-mail addy, drafting e-mail myself.
9
The message I sent

Dear Superintendent McNeece:

I offer my applause in regards to your school district's decision to cancel prom in order to prevent the "distraction" of a lesbian student bringing a female date, and the request that a private group sponsor a prom instead. But do you go far enough? I don't think so. I would like to make a few suggestions.

First, many people would consider inter-racial couples a distraction. Please ensure that any private proms will be racially distraction-free.

Second, even within racial and ethnic groups, further distractions can ensue. Please ensure that any African-American private proms will be arrayed along color lines, so that darker and lighter-skinned students don't mix.

Third, as someone with your surname should surely be aware, many people hate the Irish and Catholics. Please ensure that any private proms will maintain WASP purity and allow Papists and other distractions their own private space.

Sincerely,

Bill
10
See this would be a great chance for gay rights groups to throw a kick ass prom for her and other students who aren't bigots. Make it better than the "private citizens" one. Seems with the 50-100 students often pay to go to prom it should not cost the groups all that much. Hell I'd kick in 20.
11
That's just pathetic. Seriously, what are people afraid of? WHAT?!!! Why do people care so much who has sex with whom? I don't get it.
12
Ah, the South. This should surprise no-one.
13
"Let her have it." unleash the dogs.
14
Came to say what #10 said: There should be enough caterers, party planners, bands, etc who care enough about this issue to throw the largest/best prom int he history of the US. Even if just two local people show up, make sure that pictures and video make it on to the web to demonstrate that things don't have to suck, if you're not a bigot.
15
What 10 said. A better distraction would be if the group of private citizens that ended up hosting the prom were sane, non-bigots. The student's sympathies would probably switch sides, too. Would it really be that hard, given the press this story is getting, to find support (or even funding) for this option?
16
Better than complaining: start a fund to get these two girls out of Mississippi. The superintendent and those who think as she does surely deserve to live in America's Cloaca, but these girls obviously do not. So bring them to Seattle.
17
Ok, loveschild. Sick 'em gurrrrrrrl!
18
@13: You disgust me.

Saying the people of the city are right in tormenting the girl for her own personal expression, endorsing the likely violence that will be heaped upon her, excusing the scorn and petty blame being lobbed at her by the school... you're sick in the head.

I guess with your being a white male in Washington State, you don't even care about things like this.
19
This country is hopeless.
20
Why DID she ask permission? More to the point, why would anyone live in Mississippi?
21
Forget an alternative prom-
have a big slippery HomoOrgy
22
Its still the 60s in Mississippi.
23
Giffy is right! Let's throw these kids (all are welcome) the best fucking prom EVA! Through private donations and some big-hearted celebrities, let's roll out the red carpet for these kids.

Can we, Dan? Oh, can we?!
24
The only good thing about Alabama is that it keeps Mississippi from touching Georgia. Of course, with tattooing kids and such, Mississippi may like that Alabama keeps Georgia from touching them.

Small towns in the south are seriously backwoods. Most people in that town support what is being done.
25
In my East Texas hometown, when the high school was desegregated, white parents set up a "private" prom so that their kids wouldn't have to go to prom with their new classmates. That event was still going on when I graduated, in the 1990s. Bigotry endures.
26
Those who want to know why she asked permission: Some schools have their students register dates if they go to another school, even in the same school system. I think ours you had to register if your date wasn't a senior, since it was a senior prom.
27
Those that want to know why she need permission: I know at our high school seniors had to register or ask permission for dates who weren't from the same school (even if in the same school district) or even same grade (it was a senior prom).
28
Hmmmmm what if a 'private citizen' local to the school organized a prom, someone who would support the young lady in bringing her girlfriend? I'd donate to make that happen..
29
Just sent this email along:

Dear Superintendent McNeece,

I read with regret, and frankly, disgust, the USA Today article about your school district's decision to cancel this year's prom because a student asked to bring her girlfriend to the dance. My mom is a teacher and my family has long supported, and been advocates for, public education. My parents instilled in me the value of public education; the idea that children from all walks of life are afforded the opportunity to learn, to grow as productive citizens, and to have a shot at a better life. With that said, I am continually reminded that in America today, there are still some children - some students - who are separate and very much not equal. Such is the case here, where, by and through your actions, you have discriminated and marginalized Constance McMillen. She now stands alone, and different from her peers.

I've spent some time in the south. My brother was born in Louisiana. I understand it's a different world where you folks come from. But, at the end of the day, we all supposedly share American values, and we are each - as citizens - entitled to the full and equal protection of the law. The district's action against Ms. McMillen is arbitrary, capricious, and violates her First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. I strongly encourage you to heed the ACLU's warning, and reverse your course of action. There is still time to apologize to Ms. McMillen and let her know that she is equal too.

As you pause to evaluate your decisions thus far, consider President Kennedy's words:

In short, every American ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated. But this is not the case ... The heart of the question is whether all Americans are to be afforded equal rights and equal opportunities, whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated. (June 11, 1963).

President Kennedy's words ring as true today as they did during the civil rights movement of the '60s. America stands watching, and in judgment. I have faith that you can make the right decision, and treat this young woman as you would want to be treated.

Very Truly Yours,

Dave Brown
30
Timothy @3, At my high school, you had to submit the name of your date to the school prom committee, I think so they could create placecards or something like that. This was a Catholic high school that did allow same-sex dates (under the guise of friendship, natch).
31
@ 2: you think being polite will? The point of "let them have it" isn't to get the cunt superintendant & asshole school board to suddenly start loving gay peole. The point is to hold their feet to the fire & force them to realize that their hatred hurts people in real ways...
32
CALL HER. EMAILS JUST GET IGNORED / DELETED. CALL. IT'S WORTH IT. LOAD HER VMAIL WITH THOUSANDS OF MESSAGES.
33
We had almost exactly the same issue just outside of Toronto with a catholic school board. Marc Hall, the student in that case, eventually won based on the fact that the school recieves public funds and must therefore follow anti-discrimination laws.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Hall

Could a similar argement be made here?
34
This girl will have standing to sue this school district into the fiscal ground for the next 10 years. I hope she violates them repeatedly up and down the legal system.
35
Dan, Morgan Freeman made a documentary recently about trying to get a Mississippi high school to desegregate prom night (they still throw separate black and white proms - seriously). He offered to pay for an integrated prom if they students would attend it. It was shocking way to expose bigotry. After the documentary, this news is hardly surprising to me.

Start a fund, Dan. The Stranger is a "private citizen" and I bet you could throw a better party than anyone in Mississippi.
36
Message sent!
37
I think this is a good idea that we need to seize upon. If we are not included, then nothing. People don't like it when institutions, and especially traditions, in the south are taken away. They will accept change if the bones of the institution remain.

Instead of trying to get into marriage, why don't we try to invalidate marriage. Instead of having a prom. whey don't we get rid of the prom.

I think they would rather let us in than lose it.
38
I'll donate money to sponsor a kick-ass prom for this girl... where do I sign-up?
39
I googled Mississippi sodomy law and was helpfully informed that "Oral sex with a woman in which her sexual organs were sucked did not establish penetration and there for the offense of sodomy was not committed". Girl on girl = ok. BJ's on anyone = illegal and punnishable by 'not more than 10 years' in prison. I'm working on an argument for Superintendant McWhatever to point out this fact in a way that does not discriminate against any gay boys that might be attending the school...
Let's have a drink and dial party!
40
The email addresses for Eddie Hood, Jackie Nicols, and Harold Martin all failed.
41
Chicago Fan -

Some people also hate women. Why not separate male and female proms?
42
We should start a prom fund, yes!

I bet we could convince The Gossip to play the prom, this kind of BS is the reason Beth writes what she writes. Listen Up!
43
I got a delivery failure message thus far to 3 of the board members. I bet the IT people blocked their email addresses. Bet you MONEY.
44
did anyone else's emails bounce? i had 3 return failed delivery, and i copied and pasted directly from dan's post.
45
@33, I doubt that Mississippi considers being gay a protected class and there is no federal law to help either.
46
I sent an email but got undeliverable messages from a082315@allstate.com, hmartin@itawamba.k12.ms.us and jnichols@itawamba.k12.ms.us . I CC'd you though and since they like to rely on Christ to justify their actions I gave them some scripture to salivate over.
47
Done and done. And Giffy, that is sheer brilliance.
48
Yes, some of those emails seem to have been disabled -- anyone care to do some Internet sleuthing and see if you can't dig up current emails and phone numbers for these people? There are only 23K folks in that town, so it shouldn't be hard.

I'm going to record a podcast, so offline for an hour or so. Will check back in the comments thread when I'm done.

Let's make this distracting for 'em, very, very distracting.
49
Mine went through except the allstate.com - that one bounced back.
50
If this story makes you angry and you want to help Constance and others in MS who are trying to help her, consider supporting the Mississippi called the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MSSC), which is devoted to combating the bullying and mistreatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in Miss. schools.

To support the work of this important organization on the front line of the gay civil rights struggle, visit their website at http://mssafeschools.org/

51
@33 - If Mississippi is anything like Louisiana (and my guess is that it is actually more backward), there are no laws protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In fact, when they tried to introduce that legislation into the Louisiana legislature, a whole bunch of business leaders spoke out against it, convinced that if they were forced to not discriminate against gays, the next thing you know all their male employees would be wearing dresses and scaring away their customers. Frighteningly enough, that argument worked.
52
She probably asked permission because she had to list her date's name when she bought tickets. Many schools require that information for the seating cards or the program. Because her date would have a girl's name, she had to broach the subject in advance. I'm sure she could have lied about the name and her proposed attire, but that would probably violate some student code that she agreed to uphold and could possibly risk her diploma.
53
Got a Facebook/Twitter/Live Journal/Blog? Pass the info along. I just did.
54
for chrissakes -- from their own website:

Statement from Mrs. McNeece
Our mission statement of "Striving to Provide a Quality Education to Every Child" is the sincere goal of each and every employee of this school district. Whether it is a bus driver, lunchroom worker, maintenance staff, teacher, administrator, secretary, aide, or volunteer, we all have that passion in our hearts to make sure each student can reach their potential while in the care of ICSD.
55
To all those who've suggested getting this girl out of Mississippi, I'd like to respectfully say let her leave only if she wants to. I know that no one who's suggested she should move to another part of the country would really make her go against her will, but bigotry is like beautiful scenery: you're gonna find it almost anywhere. If she moves to Seattle or Sausalido or Singapore I hope she'll do so because she likes the scenery there better, and not because small-minded people are intent on driving her out of where she lives now.

And if she does choose to stay there in spite of the challenges I hope she's got the strength to face 'em down. I'm sure she's not the only person in that state facing the same challenges, and I admire her for being willing to set an example. Hopefully she'll help make Mississippi a better place.
56
My cc'ed emails to Mr. Hood, Ms. Nichols, and Mr. Martin came back as "failures". Either they are rejecting emails or their boxes were crashed by volume of correspondence. The others appear to have gone through.

Here is the text of my letter:

Ladies and gentlemen:

Please re-consider your decision to cancel the 2010 Itawamba Agricultural High School prom. I'm certain that your district has received quite enough negative publicity already as regards this ill-considered decision, so I will not belabor the obvious. I'm sure you, as superintendent, and as school board members, did not mean to portray yourselves and your school district as backwards, homophobic caricatures of what so many people in this country and the world over already look at as "redneck Southerners". Reversing your decision before legally obligated to do so (as you most certainly will be) would be a very positive public relations move to salvage what little you can from this already quite unfortunate situation (as well as, more importantly, being the right thing to do). Thank you in advance for reading and considering my letter and for your kind attention in this matter.

Respectfully,

Kevin R. Mills
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
57
I'd donate to a prom fund.

I'm also getting failures for three email addresses.

This is the message I sent:

Mesdames/Gentlemen:

By canceling the prom at Itawamba County Agricultural High School and blaming it on Constance McMillen for her sexual orientation, you are continuing a shameful history of bigotry in Mississippi. Not so long ago your fellow bigots Ross Barnett and William David McCain were fighting against the desegregation of Mississippi's schools and encouraging the activities of other famous Mississippi bigots like Byron de la Beckwith.

This is the ideological company you keep, and you are being judged in the same light. Is that really what you want?
58
I just skipped without reading any of the comments, but in case no one else has tried just calling....

I just called the phone number listed for the superintendent. A receptionist answered, so there wasn't an option to select the extension. She said the superintendent was busy, so I asked for her voicemail and left a message. I can't recall verbatim what I said, but I gave my name, let her know that I live in Denver (it's only fair that she know I'm not in that school district), told her that they were making a terrible decision and that the rest of the kids were doubtless going to blame her for the district's actions, and left my phone number in case she wants to talk to me. (Of course that won't happen, but it's all about keeping it professional, right?)
59
There are two listings in Fulton, MS.

Teresa Mcneece
(662) 862-7444
(662) 862-6227
60
Just called the superintendent and was told by a seriously frazzled-sounding secretary that she is not in today and her voicemail is full.

I'm from the South, and had to deal with coming out at a public high school in a conservative area, so I know how these folks work. They want above all to avoid publicity and having pissed-off parents complaining. So calling them is fantastic because it makes it abundantly clear that they will receive much more negative publicity from closing down the prom than they ever would have from letting Constance and her date attend.

I wouldn't worry about Constance. If she had the cojones to get the ACLU involved, then I promise you she has support (probably from her parents/guardian at least) and doesn't give a shit what the other students think outside of her group of friends. Believe you me, just being out in rural Mississippi is enough to earn her the virulent hatred of most of her agemates. Getting prom cancelled can't really make it worse. It may suck for her, but she has already demonstrated the necessary strength to get through it and put that place behind her.

BTW, a bit of advice for when you call or email. Try and keep bitchy comments about the South out of it. I know from Seattle there's not much to see down here but insane religious nuts and rednecks, but the truth is there's a small but devoted fraction of Southerners, even in Mississippi, who could blend right in up there. Don't assume all of us are stupid, inbred, or bigoted or uber-religious - the ones who are will just froth all the harder, and those who aren't may not listen to the rest of what you have to say. I'm from rural North Carolina, but I've chosen to stay here in the South to work (albeit in a much more liberal college town), and have thrived in spite of being, out, proud, and kinky as fuck.
61
Just a quick mustered thought, and I may be completely wrong on this. Not only is the situation out of "whack" for lack of a better term, but this girl's rights are being stripped from her. On top of which any backlash from her fellow peers have a chance to become violent and emotionally distressing. It's sad it even has to come to this, however, on the other hand, after all is said and done and the aftermath begins to fall, her trauma offers a heavy lawsuit against the school district I would imagine. Without going into detail, I would just hope that the situation gets resolved immediately for the better sake of high schools across the country.
62
the school principal is in a meeting until 3:00 MS time. The receptionist is unaware of any steps taken to provide for Constance's protection from angry students.
63
the first 3 emails are not working
but the others are
64
Dear Principal Trae Wiygul,

This email is in response to your decision to cancel Prom. You realize you are traumatizing these kids and causing more of a distraction then if you had just let McMillen bring her date?! Honestly, the student body probably wouldn't even notice there were lesbians amongst them. You and your bigoted school board will burn in hell for breaking one of the most sacred commandments: Thou shalt not judge. Man has no justfication nor right to judge each other, except in issues of law, but to judge another man's character is not right! So, you believe that being anything but heterosexual is a condemnable sin, let me ask you this: Is it condemnable because God says being homosexual is wrong and immoral, or is it wrong and immoral because we believe that's what we think God says?

Burn in hell bigoted, close-minded, hypocritical fucktard.

Have a nice day ^_^
65
Dan: I hope you've connected Rachel Maddow to this imbroglio so that she may properly embrocher this alleged group of educators with her acid-tipped rapier. "Thou shalt not shabbily treat persons under your aegis" should be the 11th Commandment. Do unto others - even if they're gay - etc.
66
Where oh where do I contribute to Fabulous Alterna-Prom? Half the price of the Bigot Prom and proceeds go to GLAAD.

School board:
Eddie G Hood
2115 Walker Levee Rd
Fulton, MS 38843-6223
(662) 585-3760

Clara Brown
3418 Hardins Chapel Rd
Fulton, MS 38843-9592
(662) 862-780

Tony L Wallace
333 Guntharp Rd S
Fulton, MS 38843-6108
(662) 862-3988
67
Dan & co,

Shorten the headline! When you share this story on Facebook, they truncate the headline so it reads:

High School in Mississippi Cancels Promp to Prevent Lesbian From Bringing Female Date - and Pot
68
The letter I sent along:

Dear Ms. McNeece,

I'm startled and horrified by the news that your school has decided to cancel prom, rather than have a lesbian student attend with a female date. I was under the impression that the South was looking to get out from under its historic reputation for bigotry. Apparently you are not part of this effort.

By canceling prom, you have created a potential lawsuit. You have opened the lesbian student to a world of harassment and blame. You have advanced the cause of hate and bigotry, and you've hurt multiple reputations: those of your town, your school, and yourself. You've missed a substantial opportunity to model tolerance, kindness, and perspective--all Christian values, last I checked. And you've ruined a traditional part of high school for hundreds of students, who will remember your idiotic decision instead of the dancing and fun they could have had on prom night.

And for what, exactly? You're not going to change this girl's sexual preference. It's part of how God made her. You are, apparently, going to spare other students the sight of a girl in a tuxedo--because heaven knows, no girls wear pantsuits or tuxedos otherwise. You've forbidden a girl to arrive at a dance with another girl--because of course girls never arrive at dances together, and teenagers don't flock with their friends. And you've saved us all from the possibility of a girl dancing with another girl--an activity that is occurring, even as I write, at dances and dance classes and weddings across the country, where girls are dancing with their friends by choice, out of shyness, or because there aren't enough boys to go around.

It seems to me that you're paying a high price for not much.

You've still got time to change your mind. Show your students that adults have been known to make mistakes, and that classy, moral grownups own up and change course when they realize they've made an error. I'm waiting. So are they.

In case you're wondering, I am a nice white lady in my forties, a wife, a mother, and a Christian. And I am absolutely appalled by the mess you've made of this.

Very sincerely,

Ingrid Case
Minneapolis, MN
69
I'm a broke-ass single mom college student, but I am ready with my checkbook to donate $200 cash money to a private prom right now. Just set it up, Dan, and you've got my money. (Paypal maybe?)

Mmoffatt was right- they are punishing this girl by staking her out and releasing the lions; let's give all those other students the best prom ever, so then they will grow up thinking "Wow! Gays are awesome- we had the most kickass time thanks to that lesbian in high school!"
70
I called.

The phone lines are very busy - took me three times just to get the superintendent's voicemail. They are starting to get cranky, too - the receptionist said the lines are very busy, and I asked if it was because of the lesbian student/prom controversy, and she said, "I have nothing to do with that, and I am offended you would even bring it up". I reminded her I was just asking if that is why the phones are busy, not ascribing any behavior to her personally. Trying to be nice, as per Dan's instructions. I wanted to say I find discrimination offensive, so go suck an egg if you have to deal with the fallout.

Anyway, I left a nice voicemail saying it is wrong to discriminate, and that if the district canceled prom to keep black kids from attending, that would be wrong, too. And that no one better be stupid enough to hurt that girl, because they will be facing a huge backlash (and lawsuit) if that happens. Safety is paramount.
71
Paper in hand makes a bigger statement than email - if you have access to a fax machine, I called and was given this fax number: (662) 862-5494.

Thanks
Jane Pennington
72
I'm also all for helping fund a kick-ass, bigot-free prom! please, Dan, help us make this happen!!
73
Just a quick note from a 2002 graduate of a high school that had similar issues with how to deal with homosexual students: the only person that suffered from my school's attitude was me, because I was denied experiences and friendships that wouldn't ever even touched upon the subject of homosexuality anyways. By making it a "problem", my HS just riled up the students and created problems where there shouldn't have been. I think that your energy would better be focused on keeping kids on track in school and avoiding controversy that distracts from the educational process... I wish my school had done the same, in retrospect, because the novelty of homosexuality wore off far before the resentment we felt against our administrators did.
74
For those who care, my letter to the board/principal/superintendent:

Dear Principal Wiygul and Members of the School Board:

It is with dismay that I read of the recent decision to cancel a high school prom in Itawamba County School District because of "distractions to the educational process" caused by the desire of one of your students to bring her girlfriend to that prom. The decision is ridiculous on its face, disingenuous in its justification, meritless in its substance, and harsh in its result. Specifically:

First, the so-called "distraction" is entirely of your own making and compounded by your obstinacy. Although it may have escaped your notice, people of Ms. McMillen's generation, whether they be in Mississippi, California, or Alaska (or anywhere else), are remarkably more tolerant of their gay peers than their elders are. It is almost certainly the case that a) Ms. McMillen's peers know her to be gay, b) have no problem with that fact, and c) would not be made uncomfortable by her presence with her girlfriend at the Prom. Indeed, the circumstances suggest that the only people who are and would be "uncomfortable" are the people who made the decision. Ms. McMillen's attendance with her girlfriend would certainly have been a complete non-issue, had you not now foisted this "distraction" upon her. I suspect that when her generation reach adulthood, they will look back on your generation with amazement at how such dark-age ideas could have been so prevalent.

Next, the ensuing outcry--the "distraction"--flow in their entirety from the decision to bar her from the Prom, and then your continued obdurate refusal to back down. Had the initial decision not been made, there would be no "distraction." Had you relented, there would be no "distraction." Had you thought the decision through and shown even the slightest iota of compassion and understanding (and acceptance of difference), there would be no "distraction." Yet now you have managed to foist the blame for the cancellation entirely on Ms. McMillen's shoulders when the fault is entirely yours and that of your equally-blinkered colleagues.

You perhaps by virtue of your lofty station remember the fact that being a teenager is hard, no matter where you are growing up, no matter what your gender or your sexual orientation. By way of example, I spent my teenage years in attending a private school in a liberal city, with loving and supportive family and friends, and I nevertheless found both figuring myself out generally and coming to terms with my sexual orientation specifically to be very difficult. I can only imagine how much more difficult that process has been for Ms. McMillen, given that she is the only out lesbian in her town (though no doubt many remain closeted, and one wonders how many more will be afraid to come out thanks to your actions), and given that she is in a rural district in a state that is not known nationwide for its acceptance of gays and lesbians (or any other minority, for that matter.) You should be applauding her courage, not punishing it. I would never had had the courage to bring a same-sex date to my high school Prom (or to any similar event at university), and indeed it took me nearly eight years to summon up the bravery to do so, in my first year of law school. That you punish her for doing the same is despicable.

So you have a young woman who has against all the odds stacked against her managed to come to terms with herself, to find a companion, and to summon the courage and fortitude to dare to ask to bring her as her date to what should be one of the most memorable and celebratory events of her entire high school career, and you have, to put it mildly, kicked her to the curb. You have sent her a message that not only is she less-equal and less-worthy than her peers, and not only should she be excluded from the cynosure of high school social life by virtue of nothing more than who she is, but you now also have the temerity to cancel the Prom and point a finger at her for being the cause of the cancellation. Do you think this will not have an impact on her final month of high school? While no doubt some of her peers will see that the Prom was cancelled through no fault of Ms. McMillen, there will certainly be a group that do blame Ms. McMillen.

I urge you to reconsider. Ms. McMillen is no doubt a remarkable and exceptionally-brave young woman. She should be allowed to celebrate the ending of her high school years the same way that every other student is--by attending the Prom with the date of her choice. If you reconsider, no doubt the distractions will swiftly vanish, and perhaps you will also learn something yourself: That for students of Ms. McMillen's age, sexual orientation is simply a non-issue. They know that gays and lesbians are their classmates, their friends, their teachers, the people they buy clothes and food and electronics from; they see them on TV, they know that they works as firefighters, police, soldiers, lawyers, janitors, and every other possible profession. They will have know problem with Ms. McMillen and her date attending the Prom. And by allowing her to attend, you will send a message to other students who do not have the courage that Ms. McMillen possesses--the message that your school district does accept and tolerate differences, and that it's okay to be who you are.

An opposite result will lead to nothing more than those yet-closeted gay and lesbian students in your school district endure more years of hiding, of fear, of being ashamed of who they are, and of being sent the message by school authorities that their differences are something to be hidden and to be repressed, rather than to be celebrated.

Judge yourselves accordingly.

Very truly yours,
75
Three of the email addresses are not working. Time to pick up the phone and call....give em hell, people.
76
My personal motto of "Expect More, Do More and Achieve More" is what I want each individual associated with our district to adopt. Holding high expectations with a strong work ethic cannot help but yield high achievement levels for our district. We know that with the support of our parents and communities that goal is within our reach.

Teresa McNeece
Superintendent of Education
Itawamba County School District


If she gets fired do they get to keep the motto?
77
What do you expect from a school with an "Indian" mascot whose news items are called "smoke signals" http://www.itawambaahs.com/
78
Ms. McNeece, Superintendent; School Board Members Mr. Hood, Ms. Nichols, Mr. Martin, Ms. Brown, and Mr. Wallace:

I urge you to consider the message of your actions in first cancelling the school prom in order to prevent a lesbian student from attending with her same-sex date, also a student, and then inviting private parties to organize their own proms with exclusionary rights protected by law. The first lesson is that protection of the law applies only if and when the community approves. We may call ourselves a nation of laws not men, we may say we are governed by the Constitution, but the lesson of the Itawamba County School District is that lesbians do not have citizenship rights, and if a student suffers harm, whether physical or psychological, resulting from the cancellation of the school prom, it is just punishment for being lesbian. Are these truly the lessons you are trying to instill in the young people entrusted to your care? Can you do so and consider yourselves defenders of the Constitution?

Respectfully,

Graduate 1956, Melrose, MA, High School
79
So, I've been looking at other news sites, and specifically, Yahoo News's coverage of this. The comments section is pretty horrifying. Here are just a few quotes taken from their comments board.

"Many of you people posting comments about this circus are sicker than these girls. THERE IS NO REASON OR RATIONAL TO HOMOSEXUALITY, PERIOD. It is obviously a mental condition exhibited by one percent of the population, and they will not overrule the majority. They must be told, POINT BLANK RANGE that their affliction needs immediate attention. For you scientific types: If homosexuality were "normal", then on a Bell-shaped curve, there would be an EQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF BOTH HOMO AND HETERO POPULATION. There is not and therefore the curve will be massively skewed. WHERE ARE YOU PEOPLE'S COMMON SENSE?"

"They should let the dyke take her girl friend to the prom if she promises to put on a diving show for the boys after the prom. See how easy it is to work out a compromise instead of all this fighting?"

Those are some of the worst examples. On the plus side, there are many encouraging posts as well, and under the comment ratings, the homophobic comments are almost uniformly rated negatively. They are loud, but few.
80
Then the site gets really weird . . .

http://www.itawambaahs.com/A%20&%20P%20I…
81
What this girl wants is a prom with her girlfriend. She probably doesn't give a shit about lawsuits and the media, etc etc. #10, et al. have it right, let's throw her a prom where she can be safe and be herself and have fun. That is a memory she will have forever, long after the phone calls and emails calling out the administration are forgotten.
82
Well, the @allstate email doesn't work, but this one does:

directors@allstate.com

:)

Maybe email them and let them know that you are upset that you cannot contact Eddie Hood to express your concerns about the promotion of hatred...and how that reflects upon them, given that they are the providers of that email address.
83
@79: "They should let the dyke take her girl friend to the prom if she promises to put on a diving show for the boys after the prom."

That is just all kinds of gross and creepy.
84
Oh, hey! Checking on the website, she's an honor student to boot!
85
I sent the following email to superintendent, principal (although you have mixed contact info for the principal) and each of the board members. Only 2 of the board members addresses were bounced back:

I don't know why I was shocked to read in USA Today about the hatred, bigotry and ignorance happening in your school. I guess it should come as no surprise considering many of the most heinous civil rights crimes have happened in Mississippi; but this 2010 after all, those were problems of the past. Clearly not.

I guess I should thank you though, at least you didn't put a sack over her head, hustle her into a van in the dead at night and imprison her in a "scared straight" indoctrination camp. Although, I suspect that is not a thing of the past either.

Then to read further that you are blaming this poor high school girl for all of the ruckus caused, obviously, by your own leaders. I guess I should thank you for that too. If you hadn't decided to show your school board's hate and ignorance, then I (and hundreds of others) wouldn't have known and you may have been allowed to get away with your illegal and immoral actions.
86
Sometimes being an asshole is the only way to get people to listen, frankly. And nobody asked that everyone "love the lesbians", all we want is for things to be fair, equitable- no discrimination based on anything- now if we could assess stupidity and discriminate against that- and by stupidity I mean fear-based ignorance- I would totally rally against that demographic.
87
If I'm the girl I'll go find a guy to go with and a guy for the girl friend. Once at the prom I'll dance and hold hand with the girl friend. As long as they're not kissing i don't see how that's gonna make the administrators throw them out.
88
Has anyone noticed how there's no one assigned to handle non-discrimination complaints in their "Notice of Non Discrimination" page? Maybe that's the problem.

http://www.itawambacountyschools.com/non…
89
I'm all for throwing a prom, but in the meantime sent a check to:

Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition
P.O. Box 3442
Jackson, MS 39207

90
My email:

This email is in regards to Ms. Constance McMillen, and the lawsuit filed against your school by the ACLU.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank each of you for your hard work and diligence in ensuring that the issue of civil liberty is still alive and relevant.

A school should support all of their students. Not just the ones with whom they identify socially, religiously, or sexually. It is not my hope that you are all asked to resign. It is my hope that you will use this event as a way for you to realize that segregation isn't only a racial issue. You should be defending Ms. Constance McMillen in her fight against segregation and hatred. You should be using this event as a way to educate your students against the dangers of hate, discrimination, and prejudice. As an educational institution, it is your duty to provide all of your students with the tools they need to survive and flourish in the world outside of the classroom.

Would you cancel the prom because a Jewish girl and a Catholic boy wanted to attend together? Or a girl of Irish descent and a boy of African descent? Perhaps a girl of money and a boy whose family can only afford a one room apartment?

Your charge is to stand up for your students in the face of adversity! Not to bow to controversy and prejudice like cowards. If you fail one student, you have failed all of your students. You can still salvage this situation. You can still do the right thing.

It's time to be the mature, responsible, wise educators that were appointed to bolster our youth and teach them to be leaders and changers of the world. It's time to dig up the seeds of hate that you've sewn and cultivated, and burn them. Now is the time for action.

The world is watching.
91
I think that a whole bunch of queers and their supporters should descend upon this town and take the school up on its offer for private citizens to host a prom. A gay pride through their dirt main street might be very distracting, ineed.
92
To the esteemed members of the Itawamba school board -

As a pediatrician, former high school teacher, and medical school faculty member, I am appalled and disappointed you would choose to cancel prom at the high school in your district after a student at your school wanted to bring a female date. Not only are your discriminatory practices abhorrent, you are promoting potential retribution on this student by other students who see her as the reason for this cancellation. Instead of acting as an adult, you have pushed the blame to a child. This is administrative sanctioned bullying. Shame on you.

Kristin Wennerstrom Guilonard, DO MPH
93
Over on the Great Orange Satan we're trying to put together a "backup Prom committee" to make sure that, no matter what happens with the lawsuit, these students can have an inclusive, non-discriminatory prom. Anyone who wants to help out and has a dKos account should visit http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/3/11/…)
94
This thread is giving me deja vu... didn't this exact thing happen somewhere a year ago? And I don't mean the Canadian Marc Hall case that was pointed out in 33 (where the gay guy was forbidden to attend prom, but prom wasn't cancelled). Wasn't there another school in the US that cancelled prom last year, and I think the central characters were girls too?

95
I work at one of the top 5 largest school boards in North America and we have some amazing policies in place to protect the rights of our LGBTTQI2(xrluyhv) students! We are also currently working on a new Gender Based Violence policy.

So... I am going to do what I can to get my school board to speak up again this. Unfortunately the Board meeting was last night... but hopefully I can get my board to do something about this! Perhaps our Equity committee can help me out.
96
My goodness, its like Reflections of a Rock Lobster all over again. These people remind me of where I went to school at.
97
I want to email them and be serious about it, but I can't, because this is what I'd say:

I'm a red blooded Bush voting American, and you know who else hates the gays. THE TERRISTS HATE THE GAYS! ARE YOU A TERRISTS!?!?!?

Incorrect grammar and spelling intentional.
98
Would this be a story if this was a charter school?
99
Found it: this happened at Tharptown High School, Alabama, in November 2009, also with a couple of girls and the prom cancellation gambit. And there was a happy ending: after the outcry and ACLU involvement, the prom was on and the girls were in.

http://www.examiner.com/x-17183-Birmingh…
100
For anyone interested, here's what I wrote. It was bounced back by Eddie Hood, Jackie Nichols, and Harold Martin's email accounts:

Greetings Superintendent McNeece and Greetings to the Itawamba County School Board!

As I understand it, certain "distractions" have led you to invite private citizens to host the annual Itawamba Agricultural High School Prom this year! I am indeed a private citizen of the United States, and though I may have the facility, alas, I lack the monetary means to host such an event. I write to you not to offer my services by way of staging your prom for you. I write merely to ask one simple question:

Where are your heads at?

You say that the prospect of having a young lady bring her girlfriend to prom would be so distracting that it would be better to cancel the whole thing.

Here's a thought: I'm assuming that this email is only one of hundreds that you've already received in regards to this issue. I don't doubt that you've also received phone calls. Perhaps you've even been approached by one or two news agencies.

How distracted are you now?

Actually, enough about you. Let's think of the senior students who have had what should have been one of the most memorable nights of their lives suddenly taken away from them by adults who were upset by the inevitable backlash of a prejudicial and bigoted decision on their part.

How distracted do you think they are now?

In fact, let's think for a moment on one single student, who wished to make that night as memorable for herself as possible by following through on the perfectly natural desire to share it with the person she happens to be dating, only to be demonized and singled-out by the organization that should make it its duty to support and defend all its students, regardless of sex, race, religion, or sexual identity.

How distracted do you think she is right now?

I remember my own high school experiences very well and I know that even for a white, heterosexual male, adolescence can be traumatizing time. Teenagers are capable of incredible grace, but they are equally capable of casual cruelty. I still remember the bullies that picked on me and lowered my own measure of humanity. I remember them every day.

But it wasn't until I had read about what you did to Constance McMillen that I remembered that educators can often be just as cruel as their students.

Frankly, I'm not worried about Ms. McMillen. She is in for a very hard time in the immediate future, certainly. She will be blamed by her peers for something that is in no way her fault and will be made the subject of constant ridicule. But in the end, she will move on. Indeed, she will most likely move to a place far away from you where she will not be made to feel shame for who she is, but rather embrace it.

My worry is for you, your school district, and the other gay students who reside in it (and be sure, you do have other gay students. Ms. McMillen is simply the only one being open about it). In fact, I worry for all your students, straight and gay. Your backward decision is leading them down a path of fear and hatred that is in no way a part of the future of this country. Fifty years from now, future generations will not understand why this country was so distracted by the question of homosexual equality. It will be as alien to them as the question of segregation is to the current newest generation. All your discriminatory policy has done is to hold back one small subset of that group by forcing them to adhere to a mindset that is, quite rightfully, dying out. If they are unable to cope with how things work in the real world, the fault will be on your heads, wherever they are at this moment.

Sincerely,
Zachary Green