US: School district threatened with lawsuit drops ban on same-sex prom dates
A school district in the US state of Missouri has overturned a policy which banned same-sex couples from attending school proms together, a day after it was threatened with legal action.
Scott County Central School District superintendent, Alvin McFerren, announced on Friday that the school board had agreed to revise the district handbook policy which prohibited same-sex prom dates.
He went on to say that the policy, which stated that students “will be permitted to invite one guest, girls invite boys and boys invite girls”, was adopted around ten to fifteen years ago, for innocent reasons, and that it was not meant as discriminatory.
The reason he gave was that the school district was aiming to block students from cheating on the entry cost of prom by pretending to go as a couple, which was less expensive than paying individually.
“When I found out the real, true, innocent reason, we wanted to get that kind of thing corrected,” Mr McFerren said.
The school district has one elementary school, and one high school, which serve 330 students, combined, reports KansasCity.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Thursday accused the Scott County Central School District in Sikeston, of discriminating, and wrote that the district had until 25 February to revise the policy banning same-sex couples, or face potential legal action.
According to the SPLC, Stacey Dawson, of Scott County Central High School asked if he could take his boyfriend to his prom on 20 April, but was told that the district’s policy prohibits same-sex couples.
Alesdair Ittelson said on Friday that the SPLC had not confirmed with Mr McFerren that the policy was to be rescinded.
He said: “If it is indeed true that the policy has been permanently changed, it represents a big step forward for LGBT students in a part of the country that frequently lacks community support for students like Stacy,” Ittelson said. “We applaud Stacy’s bravery in standing up for his rights.”
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Mr Lawson, who at first thought his boyfriend would not be able to attend the dance, said the event “is an important milestone in high school, and I would be devastated if I’m not allowed to attend prom with my boyfriend.”
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