I’m sure by now we’ve all heard the case of Constance McMillen, the high school student who, after being told she could not bring her girlfriend as her prom date nor wear a tuxedo, she got the ACLU involved and the school was forced not to ban her from the prom because of her sexual orientation or choice of attire. So the school’s response? They cancelled the prom altogether!
I highly recommend you follow this page to keep up with all the happenings with this case, as McMillen and the ACLU continue their battle and try to get the prom reinstated.
So what do we, as youth rights supporters, see going on here? We see anti-youth bigotry being used as a conduit for homophobia. This happened because the school felt they were a greater authority over McMillen’s and her girlfriend’s own lives than McMillen and her girlfriend themselves. They felt it was up to them, as the grand adult school officials, to cast the two girls aside as being abnormal, because they aren’t “good” and “right” students who are heterosexual. According to the school, only heterosexual students deserve to be recognized and treated with respect, while non-straight students must be kept out of sight.
It goes even further when you figure that the school, rather than just opening the prom up to non-straight couples and non-gender conforming students, cancelled the whole thing entirely.
The announcement alarmed McMillen.
“Oh, my God. That’s really messed up because the message they are sending is that if they have to let gay people go to prom that they are not going to have one,” she said. “A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this.”
Exactly! I’m certain that was the school’s whole motive here. They wanted to erase McMillen’s very identity and dignity by barring her and her girlfriend from the prom. I mean, being just students, the school considers them their property anyway, so they felt free to push upon them any bigotry they wanted. Then McMillen and ACLU stood up and said no, so the school, retaining their bitter ageism and homophobia, instead cancelled the event altogether, even for the students they believe to be normal and good. So the school wants those “normal and good” students to hate Constance McMillen because she (as a lesbian) apparently “ruined it for everyone”. Because I suppose since the school failed to hide the “impure” and “evil” lesbian couple from the “innocent” straight students, their next tactic was to make them as hated as possible.
I’m happy to see all the support McMillen has gotten, that she has been traveling around and appearing on TV talking more about the case. We need cases like this, of students sticking up for themselves rather than accepting whatever the schools do to them. Schools and other entities that deal with youth so much have got to stop treating students like their lives belong to them, like they have greater knowledge and authority over how students should live their lives and who they should love.
So, schools, you’d better accept and treat with dignity every student regardless of sexuality, appearance, ability, background, ideology, or any other part of their identity. When schools do not accept all students and treat them with respect and equality as they are, schools will remain a very dangerous place for any student committing the mortal sin of being the slightest bit different.
Good luck, Constance!