My kids are eleven, three, and three months old. The first prom, even for the oldest, is still years away. But today in the newspaper I saw something that really resonated with me as a mother. Itawamba County has decided to cancel prom this year rather than allow a lesbian student to attend with her girlfriend. Constance McMillen is a senior in high school. She goes to school every day with her classmates, just like any other child. Then she is told by her community that her very existence is so offensive and threatening to them that they cannot even allow their children to be in the same room with her for one night. Really, Itawamba County?
The school board has been quoted as hoping that a private event could be held. In other words, they are cancelling the official prom and hoping that some bigoted parents will put up the funds to sponsor a prom that better suits their sensibilities. Constance is sure she would be excluded from such an event. I'd be willing to bet she's right. I have never been to Itawamba County, but based on the quotes I've been seeing, I'd be willing to bet that no LGBTQ students will be invited. I might even be willing to wager that only straight, white, Christian students would receive invites.
My daughter will be attending middle school next year, and that means school dances. We teach her continually about bullying and the importance of bystanders. I would be ashamed to send her to a school-related event that purposely excluded a segment of the school population like this. I'm sure that she would never dream of attending a segregated prom of any sort. My hope as a parent is that each of my children can grow up to love, marry, and go to prom with whomever they choose. To have to watch my child be treated as a second-class citizen in the country I love would break my heart.
Constance is suing the school district, with the help of the ACLU, to make them reinstate the prom. Whether or not this is successful, I think the students of Itawamba County are entitled to a beautiful, inclusive prom. If anyone can help them achieve this, it's Ellen! A campaign has begun to email Ellen or message her fan page to bring her attention to this issue and ask her to lend her name to the cause. If you believe that every child deserves a prom, please hop over and let Ellen know.