The Lesbian and the Tuxedo
It all started when a certain lesbian high school student in Mississippi (Constance McMillen) applied to go to her high school prom with her girlfriend. She also wanted to wear a tuxedo instead of a prom dress. The adults in charge said that would not be allowed.
The Lesbian and the ACLU
The ACLU got involved, and a Mississippi judge stopped just short of making the Itawamba High School allow the student to attend the prom with her girlfriend. The ruling was not made, because the Itawamba community made plans to hold the high school prom at the local country club (since the school prom was canceled rather than have to share the evening with an out lesbian teenaged girl and her girlfriend).
The Lesbian and the Country Club
On the appointed night, the lesbian and her girlfriend dressed up and went to the prom at the country club. The only trouble was that fewer than ten students were there. To make matters worse, those students had not been invited to the real party. A secret prom was in full swing over in the next town where the other students from Itawamaba High School were partying away (while the small group at the country club had their ‘Prom’).
The Lesbian and the Wrath of the Regions Beyond Mississippi
I’ve spent hours today reading blog posts and reading comments about this situation. I totally agree that what the students did, by having a secret prom and leaving out some of the students, was terribly wrong. There is no disputing the lack of compassion for ‘other’ that was demonstrated by these students who wanted to hide from ‘the lesbian’ and have a secret party without her. And, there is no question in my mind that they did not act alone. The adults in their lives were part of the ‘meanness’ that took place that night.
The Other Students and Their Post-Lesbian Future
So many of the comments by readers wish bad things on the students who held the secret prom. People are threatening to have them banned from good colleges. This is where I differ with the thoughts expressed in some of the comments I read today. Why would we want to punish their ignorant behavior by withholding an opportunity for them to have their minds opened to knowledge and to other people?
Self-Centered Behavior vs. Empathy and Compassion
None of us were born rejecting others or being mean to others. We all learned how to do that. We also learned about each other and learned to be open to each other.I’d like to see the ‘secret prom’ kids have the opportunity to learn to value others and treat others with respect. Compassion can be learned just as cruelty and a lack of compassion seem to have been learned, and if not compassion, at least a basic sense of treating others with dignity and respect. I want to believe this is true. I want to believe that living in a different environment would help these young people see the bigger picture. I want to believe that getting to know people who are different from themselves will lead to more openness of heart and mind. I really don’t see these kids as terrible people, just self-centered and lacking in empathy. I don’t wish them a terrible life. I wish them the joy of learning to really see and appreciate others. I’d like to see them all grow and change because of this experience, becoming more sensitive and empathetic people. I don’t wish them harm.
The Lesbian As a Catalyst for Change
Rather than banning these (secret prom, anti-lesbian) students from the college experience, I would like to see them all become on-campus students at universities where intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge are valued. I would like to see these students spend four years living and learning in a place where their minds can be opened to people and realities beyond the world they currently know.
The Lesbian and the “Mean Kids” Syndrome
People can be mean. Kids can be mean. Adults sometimes behave with cruelty that is shocking, since they are old enough to know better. There is no doubt about any of these things. It seems that all three of these things took place in Itawamba county, Mississippi this past week.
The Lesbian and What We Can All Learn
It is clear that ‘the lesbian’ was not popular with her classmates, but at least she did not curl up in a corner and fade away (or worse). I’m glad she acted with courage, and asked for what she wanted (to go to the prom with her girlfriend). I don’t know her feelings or her motives, but I have no doubt that it took courage to be herself in an environment where no one stood up for her. I hope that her courage will serve as an inspiration to others. I hope that other people, gay or not, will take heart and take a chance when it’s time to do the right thing. I hope that we all, each of us individually, will remember to stand up for what is right. Maybe a good place to start would be treating each other with respect and showing compassion for each other.