I don’t know if y’all have seen this one, but over the past couple of days a story has come out about a certain high school senior in Mississippi. Seems this student likes to date girls and wants to wear a tux to prom.
The problem? The student’s name is Constance rather than Conrad.
Yes, Constance is a lesbian, and rather than just showing up at her prom wearing a tux with her girlfriend on her arm, she checked with the school to make sure she would be allowed to attend when she did. (There is a bit of debate over what she should have done here, and I’ve heard from both sides. Personally, I think she probably did the smart thing at this point in the story.)
The school refused, and when she threatened a lawsuit, the school cancelled prom altogether.
Up to this point, I’m with Constance all the way. She should have been allowed to attend that prom wearing the formal wear of her choice and accompanied by the person of her choice. The school had NO right to dictate otherwise. In a public education environment (ie, government school), ALL viewpoints MUST be held as equally valid. After all, viewpoints are opinions, and everyone has their own opinions about things. I don’t buy the whole “social chaos” argument, as that has been used for generations to do nothing more than tyrannically oppress those outside the majority. (And is currently being used in the ongoing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell debate, but that is a whole other discussion.)
But here’s where I side with the school:
Rather than organizing her own prom, as people have done for the past 50 years in similar situations, Constance is now suing the school to force them to hold the prom.
In so doing, she crossed the line from defending her personal rights (association, religion, etc) into attacking the rights of others (association).
Both Constance and her school are now in the wrong. At least the school made the right choice of either accepting everyone or canceling the event for everyone, rather than only excluding “certain groups”. (I disagree with the ACLU position here, as canceling for everyone ALSO meets the Constitutional requirement of equal protection.) Constance, once a person I would have championed without reservation, has now acted in such a way that I have to qualify my support with the note about her own actions restricting freedom.
But yet again, this brings up the true point: If we separated schools from government, none of this would happen. She could be at a private school more accepting of her sexual orientation, and the homophobes at her school could be at a private school where they can continue their cult. No government involvement in either decision, so no room for anyone on the outside (such as a blogger in SWGA) to decry any aspect of what happens.
Written by Jeff Sexton. Jeff Sexton co-owns the political blog SWGAPolitics.com and is the current chairman of the Libertarian Party of Southwest Georgia