Normally, when I look back on high-school, I remember it very fondly– volleyball games, a solid group of friends, flashing the math teacher. But when I read stories like the one about Constance McMillen, the lesbian in Itawamba, Mississippi, who was banned by the school district from bringing her girlfriend to prom, I am reminded of what a small-minded, cruel world high school could be. When the American Civil Liberties Union got involved and McMillen started talking to the press about gay discrimination, the school up and cancelled the prom. Then the ACLU challenged that decision in court, and the judge decided that the school had to hold the prom and allow McMillen to attend with her female date.
So you know what the other students did? Instead of supporting McMillen in her attempt to break civil rights ground, they (with the help of their similarly closed-minded parents) organized a secret prom of their own and directed McMillen to the official, school-sponsored one at a local country club. McMillen showed up to the event with her date and found only five other students there. The whole rest of the class attended the private prom, which had apparently been planned to strategically avoid having to party with dirty lesbians.
McMillen told The Advocate, “It hurts my feelings.” Well I guess it does.
I really don’t understand why these parents would knowingly help their kids discriminate against and exclude people who are different from them. Kids can be cruel– I remember in 7th or 8th grade when two of my friends called me on 3-way and didn’t tell me one of them was on the line. The one speaking tricked me into saying something that the other one didn’t like, and then my entire group of friends boycotted me and made my life miserable for the whole rest of the semester. High-school and middle-school students are more than happy to act like exclusive, elitist, peer-pressuring bitches if you let them, which is why parenting becomes so important in steering them toward maturity. But when the parents are just as bad as their kids, the kids don’t stand a chance.
The whole thing would really be disheartening to me, except for the inevitability that Constance McMillen, with her bold challenging of the status quo and wise soundbites in the media, will probably achieve far more success in adulthood than the vast majority of her useless classmates. The cool kids in high-school rarely turn out to be the winners in life, but I’ve got my bowl of popcorn out and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what McMillen brings to the world.