Gay teen banned from bringing male date to prom

Missouri teen is not allowed to bring his date as the county handbook states 'boys can only invite girls'

Gay teen banned from bringing male date to prom
15 February 2013

A gay Missouri teen is being banned from bringing his male date to his high school prom, it was revealed today (15 February).

Stacy Dawson, from Scott County, asked his school’s administrators if he could bring his same-sex date to his senior prom.

‘I was really shocked, and it was really depressing,’ he told KFVS.

‘The school board says since it was in the handbook it could be awhile before it was changed, and I probably would not be able to bring my date.

In the handbook, it states high school students are permitted to invite only one guest. Girls can invite boys and boys invite girls.

Alesdair Ittelson, a staff attorney for civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center, said the policy was ‘blatantly unconstitutional’.

‘It tells LGBT students they don’t deserve the same rights as their heterosexual peers, and that’s not right and that’s not constitutional,’ she said.

‘I think it’s an incredibly important issue because it’s not only for me, but it’s anyone who comes after me, I want them to not have to go through this, and I just think it’s really important for them to bring whoever they want to prom in the future,’ said Dawson.

Ittelson will give the district until 5pm on 25 February to change the policy, or face a lawsuit.

Dawson said: ‘I think it’s an incredibly important issue because it’s not only for me, but it’s for anyone who comes after me, I want them not have to go through this, and I just think it’s really important for them to bring whoever they want to go to prom in the future.’

Superintendent Alvin McFerren said he couldn’t comment as it is a ‘student matter’.

Back in 2010, Constance McMillen was banned from bringing her female date and wearing a tuxedo.

After the 18-year-old complained, the Mississippi school then cancelled the prom and encouraged parents to organize a private prom and not invite the gay teen.

After a lengthy lawsuit, the school was later ordered to pay $35,000 (£22.5k, €26.1k) in damages to McMillen.

UPDATE: Superintendent McFerren has edited the handook and ruled Dawson is allowed to take a male date to the prom.

‘It was never intended to be a discriminatory thing,’ he said. ‘We want an educational environment for all of our kids and we’re not ever going to discriminate as to whether or not the board has the policy and we don’t do that based on sexual orientation. Period.’

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