So on Prom night, Constance went with her girlfriend to the "official" prom that they'd been invited to after all the drama... and guess what? There were only 5 other students there.
Mysteriously, everyone else was at ANOTHER prom. A Private Prom, to which Constance had NOT been invited. A prom that was a secret until the next day, when the Facebook photos broke, and well... you can't expect a whole school of juniors and seniors to keep quiet about their Prom, can you?
This was after the court ruled that they didn't need to force the school to have an inclusive prom because hey, Constance had been invited to a prom.
Yeah, she'd been invited to a decoy prom.
This just stinks.
Beyond swearing, there are 3 things each one of us can do:
1. Express your outrage. My friend Stephen wrote a letter to the Superintendent of Constance's district, and it's powerful. Stephen was kind enough to let me share it here:
Dear Superintendent McNeece,
I was saddened to read today that Constance McMillen was duped into attending a ‘fake’ prom, and was not told about or invited to a private prom attended by her classmates; a decision supported by school officials and parents.
As an educator, I just don’t understand how school officials could allow this to happen. You and I became educators because we care about children and because we have taken on a selfless act of providing a service for the benefit of students. We do this because we truly care about the health and well-being of our students.
When I read stories about bullying, harassment and discrimination I never expect it to come from the adults in the environment. What’s worse, it’s coming from adults who are supposed to be the most qualified, educated, knowledgeable and ‘open minded’ about the students they serve. Is it really an issue to you that a student is gay or lesbian? Is it really an issue to you that a gay or lesbian student wants to bring a same sex date to a prom? Is it really an issue to you that your students don’t all represent your core values? Isn’t education supposed to be the ‘great equalizer’ in our society? Regardless of your protected class status, which includes one’s sexual orientation, we are often told that if you work hard in school you will be judged on your merits and not the color of your skin or religion. Shouldn’t we also include the person that you choose to love?
I’m trying really hard to understand your decision making and why you as the Superintendent, the person who ranks the highest in your educational community; why you would allow this to happen. Where is your heart? Where is the little voice inside of you that tells you right from wrong? Where is that deepest part of you called a soul that has the capacity to show compassion for another human being, because that is what this is really about; not who Constance brings to a prom but your ability to look beyond your own personal biases and prejudices and say to yourself, ‘this young person is just as deserving and entitled as all other students and deserves the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of her own happiness.'
Had you allowed her to attend the prom with her female date and in a tuxedo, the duration of that event would have lasted about 3 hours, yet you chose to deny this student a basic human right, and now this drama has dragged out for several weeks and it makes you, the Superintendent, look bigoted, silly and completely foolish.
So the question is this: Are you an educator who cares about students…ALL your students, or are you there to pander to the biases and prejudices of your community?
In my opinion, you should step down from your job. You are not deserving of calling yourself an educator or a leader. An educator embraces and cares for all students and a leader, a TRUE leader, does what is right by students and teaches a bigoted community of parents that schools in their community are open to all students, regardless of their protected class status, and embraces all ideas, regardless of how controversial they may appear to be. All you have done is toed the line and reinforced a status quo in your community that is both negative and cruel.
In the end, you have deeply hurt a student that did not deserve this manner of cruelty. Forever, she will remember her last year of high school as a horrible reminder of the bigotry that exists at her school and in her community. And you, what did you learn from all this?
Stephen B. Jimenez
You can send your letters here:
School Board Members
Eddie Hood, email@example.com
Jack Nichols, firstname.lastname@example.org
Harold Martin, email@example.com
Clara Brown, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Wallace, email@example.com
Mr. McNeece, firstname.lastname@example.org
Trae Wiygul, email@example.com
2. Express your support and encouragement for Constance. Maybe even send her a card. What would you say to her? Here's the address:
Chris Hampton, Public Education Associate
c/o Constance McMillen
ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and AIDS Project
125 Broad St., 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004
3. Write your Congressperson and let them know how important it is for our government to protect GLBTQ students like Candace by passing The Student Non-Discrimination Act.
Here's the text of the HRC letter (and you can click on this link to get to the HRC site where you can sign a petition and send the letter electronically):
I'm writing to let you know that I strongly support the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530) that has been introduced in the House and is expected to be introduced in the Senate soon.
Public school students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) are subject to pervasive discrimination, including harassment, bullying, intimidation and violence.
These students, like all other students, deserve an educational environment free of discrimination and harassment.
But while federal statutory protections expressly address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex and disability, LGBT students are not expressly protected by federal civil rights laws.
That is unacceptable.
This law would prohibit any school program or activity receiving federal financial assistance from discriminating against any public school student on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity contributes to high rates of absenteeism, dropout, adverse health consequences, and academic underachievement among LGBT youth. When left unchecked, such discrimination can lead, and has led to, life-threatening violence and suicide.
Thank you for your time and attention to this important issue.
Thanks to Daniel for the original link, to Stephen for letting me share his brilliant and passionate letter, and to all of you for caring so much!
ps: the original disco ball photo was from here and I added the "fake prom" text to it.