Saturday, April 10, 2010

Now that’s a prom to be proud of

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Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

The Constance McMillen gay prom affair has to be one of the most convoluted and incensing stories about a student’s fight against homophobia in a long time. For those who need their memory refreshed: Constance is the lesbian student who just wanted to dress in a tux and bring her girlfriend to prom at Itawamba County’s Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, but rather than allow her and her partner to go, the bigoted school board instead chose to cancel prom altogether, in addition to making damn sure that Constance was the one painted as the prom-wrecker. Subsequently, after the ACLU won their lawsuit against the Itawamba school board, an alternate prom was indeed held – two of them, in fact: one for Constance, her date and five others (including two “special needs” students), and another, “real” one for everyone else. Basically, the entire school, along with the teachers, school board and other students’ parents had punked Constance and made sure that the dirty little lesbian and anyone else who was remotely different were quietly put aside from all the other True AmericanTM kids. Truly despicable.

However, it looks like this saga will have a truly spectacular ending: the American Humanist Association, along with Green Day, former *NSYNC member Lance Bass, celebrity chef Cat Cora and “good news website”, are sponsoring the Second Chance Prom, an all-inclusive event with a setup so tempting that even I might’ve been interested in attending:

The Second Chance Prom will feature dinner for guests, live entertainment, a ceremony to honor outstanding youth in Mississippi, booths highlighting organizations striving for LGBT equality and celebrity guests. Other sponsors of the event include Cat Cora and

"I hope this Second Chance Prom will be an opportunity to get beyond recent negativity and provide a celebration that shows the benefits of an inclusive outlook," said Speckhardt.

Todd and Diana Stiefel made a $20,000 grant available to the AHA for the purpose of sponsoring this prom in Itawamba County. Humanists and other freethinkers have expressed a great interest in countering the discrimination of the Itawamba County school board.

Of course, though, I think it’s important to note how the person we should be thankful to the most for allowing Constance to have her prom night after all – and arguably the best prom in recent history, to boot – is Constance herself. She’s the one who refused to back down and shut up in the face of blatant discrimination, who used her resourcefulness and bravery to fight back against cowardly bigotry and whose determination and righteousness is what made all this possible. She is a true hero, not only for LGBT people and issues but to anyone dealing with discrimination, oppression and intolerance. She should be on-par with the AHA (and co.) for giving this story the attention it deserves, for shining light onto the dens of loathsome intolerance that is the Itawamba school board and (by the looks of it) the majority of Fulton, MS, and for giving LGBT kids and other youths who are regularly discriminated against both a voice and reason to hope.

Good on you, Constance. Enjoy your evening – you more than deserve it.

(via Friendly Atheist)