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|Gay teen takes boyfriend to prom in small Ga. town|
|Written by Laura Douglas-Brown|
|Tuesday, 23 March 2010 07:38|
Derrick Martin, a senior at Bleckley County High School in Cochran, Ga., is taking his boyfriend to the prom next month. And unlike a similar situation in rural Mississippi, school officials in the small mid-Georgia town have approved the date, the Macon Telegraph reported Tuesday.
“I didn’t expect them to say yes,” Martin told the Telegraph in a story posted at www.macon.com. “It’s who I am. I have the same rights. It’s my senior prom, and I wanted to be able to prove not everyone would cancel prom.”
Bleckley Principal Michelle Masters told the Telegraph she could not turn down the request.
“You don’t have the right to say no,” Masters said. “As a principal, I don’t judge him. I’m taught not to judge. I have to push my own beliefs to the background.
The Georgia school's decision to allow the prom comes as a teen in Mississippi continues making national headlines in her effort to bring a female date to the prom.
The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit March 11 after the school board called off the prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss., rather than allow Constance McMillen and her girlfriend to attend as a couple.
“Itawamba school officials are trying to turn Constance into the villain who called the whole thing off, and that just isn’t what happened. She’s fighting for everyone to be able to enjoy the prom,” said Kristy Bennett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi, in a press release. “The government, and that includes public schools, can’t censor someone’s free expression just because some other person might not like it."
On Monday, a federal court heard arguments in the ACLU's motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the Mississippi school from canceling the prom, which was originally set for April 2.
During the hearing, Bennett argued that canceling the prom to prevent a same-sex couple from attending violated McMillen's First Amendment rights, according to a report by the Associated Press.
School board officials said they were considering canceling the prom based on concerns about the potential for drug and alcohol use at the dance, but acknowledged the decision was made after McMillen's request to bring a female date.
The school's principal, Trae Wiygul, said he has faced public criticism for the decision.
"I've been called every name known to man," Wiygul said, according to AP. "I've been called a bigot and homophobic."
U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson said he would rule quickly, but did not state a date for his decision, the AP reported.
The ACLU offers "Prom Resources for LGBT Students" on its website.
Are you taking a same-sex date to your high school prom? Email [email protected] to share your story.
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