By Carolyn Clark
Prom is about fluffy, Tulle dresses, limos and lots of pictures. Well, that’s what it’s usually about. This year, prom season has become more of a cautionary tale than a fairy tale, sending the message to students that they dare not enjoy prom the way they want to, or with whom they want to, if it is not traditional.
All because 18-year-old Constance McMillen wanted to go to her high school prom with her girlfriend, and she wanted to wear a tuxedo.
For propriety’s sake, not a tuxedo!
Yeah, a tuxedo.
I really think that the Itawamba Agricultural High School and its school district need to rethink this decision — it violates multiple Constitutional rights and provides girls with a sad testament to what sort of attire is “acceptable.”
While the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing McMillen legally, is focusing on First Amendment violations, the Constitution also protects citizens from discrimination on any basis, which should in my opinion include sexuality. Itawamba Agricultural High School should have taken that into consideration before taking such drastic steps to make sure the openly lesbian teen couldn’t enjoy her prom. Maybe by punishing the entire school, the administration thought they could avoid backlash for prohibiting Constance’s attire and date at the prom? This way they wouldn’t be singling out an individual. Right, because all the other students who were fervently preparing for that milestone evening wouldn’t notice — or mind — the cancellation.
They did, and the contempt shown for Constance caused her to avoid school for several days after the cancellation was announced. Her classmates were irate that the prom was no more and blamed Constance’s desires to enjoy her prom as the reason. Ah yes, way to avoid controversy there, Itawamba! While the decision makers at the school may defend themselves with the idea that they decided against holding the dance while promoting private proms to be held, the fact still remains that Constance’s life was completely disrupted because of their action. She didn’t feel safe at school, and that’s a much bigger problem than their issue with an LGBT couple at prom.
I applaud McMillen for her perseverance on this issue. LGBT issues are becoming hot topics presently, and it’s good to see a student take a step into the spotlight for her hard work towards equality. She deserves all the public support that she’s been getting. The country needs to support her and the countless other faces of the fight for equality if they want to see legislators take action.
Before I leave you with this issue to ponder, I’d like to go back to that bit about the tuxedo. It makes me reminiscent about the dresses I saw at my prom. I remember floor-length gowns that showed more cleavage than what even Pamela Anderson would find appropriate. One style I saw on several girls showed off the entire midriff from chest to belly button with a rhinestone string to keep the dress “appropriate.” And some girls – not wanting to show off their newly developed cleavage – opted for crotch-length mini dresses that made me wonder why these girls were wearing tunics rather than dresses. And the administrators are worried about a tuxedo?
Well, that is a very valuable lesson for teenage girls everywhere: when you want to get all gussied up, you better hussy up.
Carolyn Clark works as the assistant web editor at The Student Voice. She is a junior magazine major at SU.