Mississippi high school bans students from bringing same-sex dates to prom

Elise Solé
A Mississippi school called Tremont Attendance Center mandated that students’ prom dates must be “of the opposite sex.” (Photo: Courtesy of Jack McCrory)
A Mississippi school called Tremont Attendance Center mandated that students’ prom dates must be “of the opposite sex.” (Photo: Courtesy of Jack McCrory)

High school prom organizers that excluded same-sex couples from the upcoming dance deny the rule was homophobic.

Students at Tremont Attendance Center in Mississippi were told to sign paperwork that included language stating that guests attending the Apr. 26th prom must be “of the opposite sex.” The rule was emphasized twice — in capitalized, bold letters — on the two-page form, and under a safety waiver that required student and parent signatures.

“Guests must be 10th-grade–21 years old and of the opposite sex,” read the rule.

The form was shared on Facebook by Jack McCrory, a Tremont graduate whose niece is a current student. “From the open-minded and tolerant folks of the Tremont prom committee,” he wrote on Monday.

Trae Wiygul, the superintendent of Itawamba County Schools, did not respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request for comment. He told WTVA, “The Itawamba County School District does not sponsor or endorse proms. If prom is being held, it is a private affair hosted by parents. Since this matter allegedly concerns a parent, who is also a teacher, any activity that person may have done during school hours concerning a prom was outside the scope of employment and is being investigated.”

Wiygul said a teacher who passed out the forms is being investigated.

But McCrory tells Yahoo Lifestyle that teachers on the prom committee, some of whom are also parents, distributed the paperwork to students at the school.

According to WTVA, a parent involved with prom said the rule was an attempt at “crowd control,” so students could not purchase tickets for unofficial dates. “That’s not relevant to a person’s sex,” McCrory tells Yahoo Lifestyle.

A Facebook post, allegedly written by a Tremont student and sent to Yahoo Lifestyle, says the paperwork was passed out by “multiple teachers” prefacing an intercom announcement from the principal, which warned that students could not bring same-sex dates. The student also said that prom money was fundraised at an on-campus Halloween carnival.

Joshua Tom, the legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi, tells Yahoo Lifestyle, “Preventing same-sex couples from attending prom is discriminatory and unconstitutional. We’d advise that the county doesn’t repeat its discriminating actions from nine years ago or face legal jeopardy.”

According to the ACLU, former student Constance McMillen, a lesbian, won a 2010 lawsuit against Itawamba Agricultural High School when the district canceled prom because McMillen wanted to wear a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend. Parents organized a separate prom to which McMillen and her girlfriend were invited, but that was canceled, too. The ACLU claims that a “decoy” prom was arranged for McMillen and her girlfriend, while the “real” prom was held in another town.

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