Friday, March 12, 2010

A school district's lesson in hate and fear

The Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi cancelled its prom rather than allow Constance McMillen, an openly lesbian student, to attend with her girlfriend and (horrors!) wear a tuxedo.

The school district said it was concerned about the "education, safety and well-being" of the students and took the action "due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events."

McMillen is a courageous young woman. I can imagine that her classmates are not too happy with her right now, when they should be directing their anger at the school district. Fortunately the ACLU has taken up her cause, filing a lawsuit to get the April 2 prom reinstated.

In addition to being bigoted, this is just silly.

Who would it hurt if McMillen wore a tuxedo and brought a girl to the prom? No one. If someone doesn't like it, that's their right. But they shouldn't be able to prevent a same-sex couple from attending any more than they could prevent an interfaith or interracial couple.

A school district so concerned about the "educational process" is teaching the wrong lesson. Instead of stressing the importance of acceptance, they've taught their students that it's acceptable to be intolerant.

As usual, a show tune says it best.

Sixty-one years ago, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote that we're not born hating or fearing anyone. We've got to be carefully taught.

Here's Glee's Matthew Morrison as Lt. Joseph Cable in the Broadway revival of South Pacific with a song that sadly, resonates today:


Lyrical Thoughts said...

That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in awhile. Not only to prevent someone from going to prom but to actually cancel prom. I did not have a date to Jr/Sr (Baptist schools version of prom), so I took a my friend, who is also a girl. If the Baptists allowed it, then I would think a public school would too. I wonder if the school board would have allowed it if they were not open lesbians.

Esther said...

That's a great point. I was reading some comments about this story yesterday and several women mentioned that they didn't have a date to their prom so they went with a female friend. Two girls going to the prom together is not unusual. But yeah, I'm sure the school district was freaked out by the lesbian angle. You're right, it's ridiculous, as well as sad and intolerant. Adults are supposed to set an example, which they've failed to to do in this case.