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Take Action: Stop Discrimination in Public Schools

March 15, 2010

Last week a high school in Itawamba County, Mississippi announced that senior Constance McMillen couldn’t bring her girlfriend to prom, invoking a school rule that prom dates must be of the opposite sex.  When the ACLU got involved and demanded that McMillen be able to bring whomever she would like, the district responded by canceling the prom and encouraging another group to hold a private prom with whatever rules (presumably homophobic) they’d like.

If the policy banning same sex dates didn’t already send a message to students justifying bigotry and bullying, McMillen correctly points out that this is simply the school retaliating against her.  Said 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.  A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this, so in a way it’s really retaliation.

You can watch McMillen on the CBS Morning Show below the jump.

This, along with the new study of cyberbullying of LGBT kids I wrote about last week, are both tragic and very real examples of why we need to do more to protect kids in schools.  Representative Jared Polis began a push earlier this year for the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530), which would begin to address this issue from a policy perspective.  While that can’t change hearts and minds, it can certainly do a lot about institutionalized discrimination at schools.  If kids don’t feel safe and equal, they certainly aren’t able to take full advantage of their educational opportunities.  We need to do more, and I’ve included a few things you can do below.

  • The National Stonewall Democrats have a petition that I’d encourage you to sign.
  • You can join nearly a quarter million people on Facebook who have become a fan of letting McMillen go to her prom (only 8 people have joined the counter-group).
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