Prom rules aren’t a good cause for a lawsuit

John Mercer

Recently, in Fulton, Miss., Constance McMillan filed a lawsuit against the Itawamba County School District, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union; for cancelling the senior prom. The suit alleges that the school board has violated McMillan’s First Amendment rights by not allowing her to bring her girlfriend to the prom as her date and prohibiting her from wearing a tuxedo. Rather than accepting the school’s position, McMillan demanded that the school renounce their current stance and support her expression of sexuality. In a letter released to the press, the school board announced they were cancelling their sponsorship of the prom, stating the situation was becoming a distraction to the educational process.

I’m just like every other American with an affinity for my constitutional rights. Perhaps McMillan’s civil rights have been violated by the school’s actions. However, a lawsuit that takes school administrators’ time away from their educational duties and spends thousands of dollars in taxpayers’ money over a prom is completely unnecessary.

There is no reason for the ACLU to be involved in this matter. They have no grounds to demand that the school pay for the students prom. It seems that every time there is a disagreement these days, in comes the ACLU filing a lawsuit. The ACLU wastes hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money every year grinding the wheels of the legal system. Last year an ACLU lawsuit in Denver regarding police brutality cost the taxpayers over $570,000 in court fees. Over the last five years the ACLU has collected over $10 million in damages from American taxpayers.

If the school is footing the bill for the prom, they should determine the perimeters of conduct that guests will conduct themselves with on their dime. I recall my senior prom; there were lots of rules. Students couldn’t bring alcohol or drugs, there were enforced dress codes, and dates couldn’t dance too closely or act promiscuously. Any students not adhering to these rules were removed or banned from the prom. I don’t recall any students filing law suits against our school because we couldn’t invoke our First Amendment rights to freely express our sexuality. I’m certain nobody filed lawsuits because there was a dress code and they couldn’t dress however they pleased, regardless of how distasteful.  Yet here is an 18-year-old girl demanding an educational institution accept her lifestyle and make concessions to her, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes anyone else involved.

Meanwhile, a couple hundred other high school kids who are willing to follow the rules set forth by the institution funding their night of privilege are denied their prom because one girl disagrees with the policies of the school board.

I’m confused as to why this girl couldn’t simply follow a dress code. As a young person, McMillan could use this situation to affirm the fact that life is not fair. Sometimes people are not going to accept your lifestyle decisions; that’s just part of life.

This isn’t really a case of intolerance at all. The school issued a list of criteria for prom dates, none of which are being attacked by any other students. Yet McMillan and the ACLU take issue with one requirement: dates be of opposite sex. The fact is the school board can’t cater to the lifestyle of every student.

Teens often go to the prom in groups of same-sex friends or even by themselves. This was not prohibited by the school. McMillan and her girlfriend could have gone to the prom as “friends,” and adhered to the dress code. They would have been able to enjoy the prom and the rest of her classmates would not have been affected. But instead of making a conservative decision, McMillan and the ACLU have elected to blow the situation out of proportion and make it national media frenzy, even if it’s at the expense of every other student in the school.