An Alabama high school that previously banned same-sex couples from attending prom has reversed its policy after an outcry from students.
Earlier this week, it came to light that Greenville High School had said it would allow only "traditional couples" –- meaning a male and a female –- to attend prom, according to local outlet WSFA-TV.
Interim Superintendent Amy Bryan abolished the anti-gay policy soon after she learned of its existence. Had Mrs. Bryan known of the policy before it was given to students, then it would have never been an issue; however, the school administrator circumvented Mrs. Bryan in the decision process, issuing it without her knowledge or approval.
"An administrator issued a list of prom rules that included a discriminatory statement," she said, per WSFA. "No one lost their right to go anywhere. It's unfortunate it was in our rules, and all children will be welcome to the Junior-Senior Prom."
Gay student Sarah Smith spoke to WAKA-TV about the issuing of the rule. "There was actually a straight girl sitting beside me, and she was getting more mad than I was about it. So that made me feel pretty good to know that somebody was on our side," Smith said.
Smith helped bring the offensive policy to light via Facebook.
"Me and one of my friends, we actually got together and we actually wrote a post on Facebook and it just went from there. Today they [school administrators] lifted it [the ban], so we can pretty much take whoever we want to prom now, so we're all excited about that," she told WAKA on Wednesday.
Over the course of the past few years there have been a slew of controversies surrounding schools' policies on prom couples. A group of residents in Sullivan, Ind., came under fire last year after proposing a "gay-free" prom that would take place outside of school. The local high school, on the other hand, allowed same-sex couples to attend the school's official prom.
"We are conservative around here. That's just the way of this town," Nancy Woodard, who lives in Sullivan, told The Associated Press at the time. "In any town in this county, you'll find four or five churches no matter how small the town. ... The Bible is a big belief system here."
It's prom season and in conservative areas, there will be attempts at banning "non-traditional couple." I, personally, am very proud of the immediate and swift actions took by Interim Superintendent Amy Bryan to abolish the policy. It shows that however backward Alabama politicians may be, there are still good people in Alabama who believe in equal rights.
Interesting the first gay couple known to attend a prom together was on May 30, 1980:
First American Gay Male Couple to Attend Senior Prom
Aaron Fricke was in his final year at the Cumberland (Rhode Island) High School when he publicly came out as gay. He asked Paul Guilbert to the senior prom (the school's most important social dance event).
His principal prohibited their attendance, saying the move "upset other students, sent the community abuzz, and rallied out-of-state newspapers to consider the matter newsworthy." It also earned Fricke five stitches under his eye when he was attacked in the hallway.
Fricke filed a lawsuit in Federal court with the help of the ACLU, charging that the school district was infringing on his first amendment right to free speech. "I feel I have the right to attend," he told the judge. "I feel I want to go to the prom for the same reason any other student would want to go."
The judge agreed (Fricke v. Lynch pdf), and not only ordered the school district to allow the young gay couple to attend, but required the school to increase security in case there were any problems.
So, on May 30, 1980, Fricke and Guilbert attended the prom, and the judge's decision inFricke v. Lynch became an important legal precedent. Fricke later wrote about his experiences in Reflections of a Rock Lobster: A Story about Growing Up Gay. He also collaborated with his father on another book, about coming out, entitled Sudden Strangers: The Story of a Gay Son and His Father.
I admit, I went to my prom with a girl, and I had a wonderful time. However, that was long before I had figured out the whole gay thing. Where I grew up (in Alabama, by the way), it was so completely unacceptable that it didn't cross my mind until I was in college that I could be gay, and then it took a few years to work out all the feeling.
What was your prom experience like?