This is good news. Most of us have heard about the Itawamba County, Mississippi, School District's decision to cancel the prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School (near Tupelo, Mississippi) rather than let a lesbian student attend with her girl friend. Well now they can party in New Orleans, if they want to:
New Orleans hotel owner Sean Cummings is offering to take the students to New Orleans by bus, and host a free prom at one of his properties.
More, after the fold.
The ACLU also will bring a lawwsuit:
The American Civil Liberties Union will sue a Mississippi high school after it canceled its prom this year rather than let a lesbian student bring her girlfriend as a date. The suit in the U.S. district court for northern Mississippi calls for Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton to reinstate the prom on April 2.
"Itawamba school officials are trying to turn Constance into the villain who called the whole thing off, and that just isn’t what happened," said Kristy Bennett, legal director for the ACLU of Mississippi. "She’s fighting for everyone to be able to enjoy the prom. The government, and that includes public schools, can’t censor someone’s free expression just because some other person might not like it."
And Constance McMillen is not backing down;
"All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student," Constance McMillen, the 18-year-old senior, said in a statement on Thursday. "But my school would rather hurt all the students than treat everyone fairly. This isn’t just about me and my rights anymore — now I’m fighting for the right of all the students at my school to have our prom." [...]
I hope some students take up Sean Cummings on his offer. A prom in New Orleans is so much better than the bigotry of Itawamba Agricultural High School.
Hate is alive in Mississippi. But there are good folks standing up against it.
Update I: More on Sean Cummings. This guy is for real.
Sean Cummings doesn't think small. The New Orleans native, known for developing cutting-edge hotels and condos, has lately taken on one of the biggest challenges of his career. The massive redevelopment project he now heads, called Reinventing the Crescent, will rejuvenate six miles of riverfront property, including some just off the French Quarter. Cummings prides himself on bringing modern flair to his projects while preserving their historical roots. A graduate of Brown University with a degree in economics and urban studies, he won praise for a pair of boutique hotels he developed in New Orleans, International House and Loft 523. "Fourteen of the real estate development projects I've done have been adaptive reuses of historic buildings," says Cummings. "This sort of thing is almost second nature to me."
Update II: One of the good people of Fulton, Miss:
"It's just a sad situation. I feel sorry for the children who ain't going to get to have their prom," said Diane Roberts, a hair stylist in Fulton, which is about 25 miles east of Tupelo.
Roberts said the school board's decision has placed the entire city of about 4,000 in a negative light.
"It's a small town and we have wonderful people here, don't get me wrong. But there are some people on the board who think they are the last word," she said. "You can't judge people like that. That's between them and their good lord."
Update III: More from Cummings:
At least one supporter has offered to help McMillen and her classmates hold an alternate prom.
New Orleans hotel owner Sean Cummings told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson he was so disappointed with the school board's decision he offered to transport the students in buses to the city and host a free prom at one of his properties.
"New Orleans, we're a joyful culture and a creative culture here and, if the school doesn't change its mind, we'd be delighted to offer them a prom in New Orleans," he told the newspaper. "Concluding your high school experience should be a joyful one. One shouldn't conclude that experience with all their friends on a negative note."
Update IV: More from Constance McMillen
"My daddy told me that I needed to show them that I'm still proud of who I am," McMillen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "The fact that this will help people later on, that's what's helping me to go on."
Update V: Show Congressman Jaris Polis some love:
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said a bill he's introduced in Congress would make it illegal to discriminate against gay and lesbian school students. He said at least 10 states have such laws, and his bill is modeled after those.
"This situation with the prom is a perfect example of why we need to protect students from discrimination. In this case it's a prom. It other cases, it's getting beaten up or killed," Polis said.
You can donate here to Polis if you want:
Update VI: One more update. SallyCat had a good comment:
Check out the guy's hotel business... (2+ / 0-)
Recommended by:Predictor, TomP
International House Hotel
High end boutique, French Quarter, including events related to various New Orleans rituals including:
Rituals at International House
* Winter Dress
* All Souls/All Saints Day
* Mardi Gras
* St. Joseph’s Day
* Summer Dress
* St. John’s Eve
Seems there are a bunch of events that those conservatives in Mississippi would not approve of...
The only thing you get from sitting on the fence is splinters in your ass. My Granddaddy!
by SallyCat on Fri Mar 12, 2010 at 08:09:12 AM PST
[ Parent | Reply to This | RecommendHide ]
Update VII: One more that is important. Please check out JR's diary and rec and tip and contribute if you can:
In response to the outpouring of support for Connie McMillan's civil rights, the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, working with the Mississippi ACLU (who are also providing Connie's legal representation!), has set up an online contribution page.
HOW TO GIVE: To support the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition's "Second Chance Prom Fund," and help Constance and the students of IAHS have a prom they can be proud of, click here! Funds are being handled by the Mississippi ACLU.
The final update, really:
Stonewall Dems have an excellent petition drive going on:
Congressman Jared Polis took a stand earlier this year to fight for LGBT students when he introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act. "Like Title VI for minorities in the 60s and Title IX for women in the 70s," Congressman Polis said at the time of the bill's introduction, "my legislation puts LGBT students on an equal footing with their peers, so they can attend school and get a quality education, free from fear."
Tell your Representative in Congress to co-sponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530), so Constance McMillen -- and every student -- can have equal access to public education.
Please sign if you can.