That’s McMillen 2 – Itawamba Ag HS 0

JISHOU, HUNAN — The lesbian teenager denied a decent high school prom has won her discrimination case against Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi. The school agreed to revise its prom policy to be non-discriminatory and to pay Constance McMillen $35,000 in damages and her legal fees. McMillen last fall had asked her school if she could come to her prom wearing a tuxedo and bring her girl friend as her date. The school said no. So, she and her parents approached the American Civil Liberties Union, which agreed to represent her in a civil action against the school. So, the school canceled prom altogether. A judge subsequently required the school to hold a prom open to everyone, including McMillen and her date. Then, the school sponsored a fake prom, while a “secret” prom was held elsewhere for the rest of McMillen’s graduating class. McMillen was harassed so much at school that she transferred to a school in Jackson just to graduate with some dignity. Itawamba becomes the first high school in Mississippi to have a policy barring discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Talk about irony.

Graduation speeches, prayers and the First Amendment 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — I may seem to pay too much attention to religion in public high school graduation ceremonies, but for me it’s fascinating to see how the courts resolve two apparently conflicting clauses in the First Amendment. On the one hand, the Establishment Clause states the government can neither promote a particular religion nor prevent the free exercise of any religion. On the other hand, the Free Speech clause prevents the government from limiting or banning speech or any other kind of expression, no matter how obnoxious it may be. So, what happens when someone (a public school student, say) wants to talk about God or religion during a graduation ceremony? A public school is, after all, an institution of the government, so one might assume that student would have to rewrite the speech to omit the God stuff. This is exactly what school officials in a Nevada town believed in 2007 when they told Brittany McComb she had to take her witnessing for Jesus out of her valedictory. At first, McComb agreed, but when it came time to deliver her speech, she still referred to Jesus, etc., and school officials literally pulled the plug on her microphone. Dumb. ...

Stupid (Mississippi) high schools, part XXXV

JISHOU, HUNAN — Remember Constance McMillen, the Mississippi girl who got cheated out of her prom because she was — gasp! — a lesbian? To add insult to injury, the nutjobs from Westboro Baptist Church intend to picket her graduation May 22. Elsewhere in the great state of Mississippi, another high school, fearful that the power of Teh Gay would strike its students blind, expunged a tuxedo-clad lesbian from her yearbook. No photo and no name. Mississippi makes Kentucky look progressive by comparison. Westboro, which I prefer to call Fred Phelps’ Family’s Home Hater Cult, hates gays and lesbians, Catholics, Jews, and probably a lot of other people. Moreover, church members believe that God Himself hates gays and lesbians, Catholics, Jews (who knew?), and probably a lot of other people. Westboro has picketed high schools with gay-lesbian associations, funerals of gay or lesbian soldiers killed in combat, shuls, Catholic churches, and tornado victims, to name just a few of their abominable activities. Here’s what they say about McMillen (left). I am quoting from their website, OK? Don’t dump on me. WBC will picket the graduation of Itawamba Agricultural High School to remind the parents, teachers and students of this nation ...

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 ...
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