Stupid high schools, chapter XXXIV 4

JISHOU, HUNAN — It’s time to blog about stupid high schools again. The fruit is hanging low this season, so let’s take a look at Itawamba Agricultural High School (IAHS) in the fine “Christian” community of Fulton, Mississippi.

This tiny high school in a tiny town (populated by people with tiny minds) has made international news because it told a lesbian student, Constance McMillen, that she (a) could not bring her female date and (b) could not wear a tux to the senior prom on April 2.

After she asked to bring her girlfriend, IAHS school officials told McMillen there were Rules for Senior Prom, which specifically forbid same-sex couples and stipulate that only boys can wear tuxedos. (For girls to wear tuxes apparently would bring on a plague of frogs, or some other Biblical catastrophe.)

McMillen and her parents approached the American Civil Liberties Union, which sent a letter of demand in February to the principal of IAHS informing her that the rules violated McMillen’s constitutional rights. So, the school did the honorable chickenshit thing — it withdrew its sponsorship and canceled the prom.

Of course, who became the scapegoat? Not the school, which had reneged on its traditional prom sponsorship, oh no! Her classmates and the community blamed poor Constance McMillen (and the commie atheist ACLU) for challenging what most would consider overly restrictive rules.

So, the compromise plan was for parents to host a private event with school chaperones that McMillen, in her tux, could attend with her GF. And believe it or not, such an event was actually held, but none of the “cool” kids showed up. They were at another, secret party at a nearby country club.

The quasi-official party had seven attendees, Constance and six other students, including two with learning differences — you know, the high school “misfits.” They stayed a half hour, and left.

And you thought your high school prom experience was bad.

Predictably, the “cool” kids (and their parents) are all so proud full of themselves, bragging on their Facebook pages about the great time they had without that “attention getting” McMillen and her sinful ways spoiling all their wholesome (cough, cough) fun.

[There are some public Flickr pages of the “cool” kids party. I’m glad they enjoyed themselves. I’m also glad I didn’t have to chaperone it.]

The silver lining in all this bigotry and closemindedness is the boons that McMillen has received from the outside world. TV show host Ellen Degeneres invited McMillen to her show, and offered her a $30,000 scholarship to attend college. The website,, has offered McMillen a summer internship in New York City. A Facebook page created to balance an anti-McMillen FB page now has more members than its bizarro counterpart, which itself has been flooded by McMillen sympathizers.

Do people in Fulton feel any shame? Not that I can tell. Scrutiny from the outside world has just made them circle the wagons. Shame? Compassion? Charity? Nope, nothing to see here, folks. Move along now.

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4 thoughts on “Stupid high schools, chapter XXXIV

  1. Reply James Timothy Richardson Apr 10,2010 6:27 am

    Glad this young woman found some like minded folks to associate with. Mississippi probably isn't a good place to be gay. I don't care about one's sexual orientation. I would like our society to be more tolerant of different people.So how would this individual be treated where you are now?

  2. Reply Janice H Quinn Apr 10,2010 11:11 pm

    The niece of a friend did the tux same sex date to the prom in the mid 80's in L'ville KY. Tolerance of differences is one of the slowest things to spread. Other things are sent around the world in a nanosecond.

  3. Reply John Wheaton Apr 13,2010 5:45 pm

    Tim, Chinese are basically very straight-laced when it comes to sex and LGBT issues, especially outside the big cities. Kinda like the USA of the 1950s. A famous singer here, Li Chun, won an "American Idol" style contest a few years back and got a lot of folks in a dither because she had short spiky hair and dressed like a man. As far as I know, though, she's straight. So if a girl here came to a dance dressed in a tux, there would be a lot of gossiping. But they don't have proms here, so …

  4. Reply James Timothy Richardson Apr 14,2010 8:58 am

    As we engage one another, we all will become more like the other. So the Chinese will be okay with different people over time.

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