This spring, a gay Missouri teen who challenged his school’s policy barring same-sex dates will get to bring his boyfriend to the prom.
Stacy Dawson found out he could not bring his boyfriend because of a single line in the school handbook stating, “high school students will be permitted to invite one guest, girls invite boys and boys invite girls.”
“I’m doing this for anyone to bring anyone they want to prom,” Dawson told LGBTQ Nation before the ban was reversed. “I hope that my school and the school board members understand it’s a wrong policy. [...] It isn’t fair that a school can randomly disregard students’ rights because it doesn’t agree with who you want to take to prom.”
Just one day after the Southern Poverty Law Center threatened a lawsuit on Dawson’s behalf, the school quickly removed its ban.
SPLC’s letter to Scott County Central High makes the strong case for the ban was unconstitutional. The letter cites Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, where the Supreme Court determined students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gates.” And a second federal case in Mississippi, McMillen v. Itawamba County School District, decided a student expressing “her identity through attending prom with a same-sex date” was “the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment.”
However, the fight against same-sex discrimination at proms carries on elsewhere, as an anti-gay Indiana group faces major backlash for proposing a gay-free prom.