Goddammit Mississippi! Update — ACLU Sues Mississippi School for Canceling Prom


Goddammit Mississippi!

Mississippi, you are now officially labeled homophobic.  You earned the labels of racist, anti-semitic and violent due to your shameful history during the pre- and post-civil rights era.  There are, of course, plenty of people in Mississippi who do not deserve those labels, but they are, nevertheless, stuck with them.

You had the chance to move on, but you blew it.

The city, county, and state had the opportunity to rally behind Constance McMillen, and you didn’t.

Constance McMillen, for those who don’t already know, is an 18-year-old high school senior who is gay.  She wanted to bring her girlfriend to prom.  But rather than allow the couple to attend, the Itawamba Agricultural High School in Tupelo, Mississippi canceled it.

The ACLU sued and asked the federal court to “reinstate” the prom.  The federal court ruled that the school violated Ms. McMillan’s First Amendment rights when it canceled prom to prevent her from bringing her girlfriend.    But the court declined to reinstate the prom.  The court held that its “failure to issue an injunction [and order prom reinstated] does not disserve the public interest.”  The court reasoned that this was so because the parents were already planning a private prom that would include Ms. McMillen.

A link to the court’s opinion is here.  Siouxsie blogged about this lawsuit earlier at this link.

Despite lies representations in federal court that Ms. McMillian would be included in the private prom and that other students would be encouraged to attend, this did not happen.  Even worse, she was duped into going to a decoy prom instead–

Quite simply and horribly, the event at the country club was a ‘fake’ prom and all the other students attended the ‘real’ prom at another location . . . . According to Constance, two of the five other attendees had learning difficulties — also apparently not worthy of the ‘good’ prom. (source)

A similar stunt was pulled when the an Carolyn King, an African-American girl, attempted to attend an Alabama prom in 1965.

[Carolyn King] spent all Saturday getting ready, fixing her hair, slipping into the pink floral dress her mother finished the week before . . . . She and her date drove that 1965 night with her father and a retinue of supporters and protectors toward the high school gym.  They turned the corner.  The gymnasium was dark, empty . . . . White mothers of the prom planners had kept the location of the Jones Valley High prom a secret so she couldn’t attend . . . . (source)

No doubt, Ms. King’s and Ms. McMillen’s stories are not identical. (For starters, Ms. King was never invited on any national television show to talk about the absurdity of the situation).  But it is difficult to ignore the similarities.

It is shocking to Siouxsie that Itawamba Agricultural High School and the surrounding community did not use this as an opportunity to change the perception of Mississippi.  Our culture lionizes people named Snookie, Paris, and Tiger.  You would think that the overwhelming support for Ms. McMillen nationally, along with her new-found celebrity status would have been enough to overcome any prejudice.  But it wasn’t.  These beliefs apparently are too entrenched.  And that, Mississippi, is why you earned the label homophobic.


~ by siouxsielaw on April 7, 2010.

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