High school students have launched a petition demanding an apology from their school for banning same-sex prom dates.
Students at Mercy High School, an all-girls Catholic school in Middletown, Conn., write in their Change.org petition that, while the school has the legal right to enforce “this archaic and highly discriminatory rule,” the ban is “beyond shameful” and “aggressively discriminatory.”
The petition “Publicly Apologize & Let Girls Take Girls to Prom” has garnered more than 960 signatures. The effort is a follow-up to one titled “Let Girls Take Girls to Prom” launched Feb. 27 by an anonymous student, which received more than 1,800 signatures in less than two days but closed due to the “administration strongly advising me to give it up,” per a note by the petitioner.
Yahoo Style could not reach the school’s president, Sister Mary McCarthy, for comment; however, on Tuesday, she released the following statement, according to the Hartford Courant:
“As LBGT issues continue to be the subject of discussion and debate within the Catholic church and society at large, so too are they matters of consideration for Mercy High School. … The expectation has been that a Mercy student’s date be male. These limitations are premised both in preserving the spirit of the prom as a safe and enjoyable experience for the students of Mercy, as well as recognizing and adhering to the teachings of the Church.”
However, the backlash continues to grow — a group of Mercy alumni created both the hashtag #WePROMise and a website called We Promise Catholic, which aims to “create a social media presence and a news worthy story to persuade Mercy High School of Middletown, CT, to change their ‘policies’ on prom dates.”
People who signed the latest petition gave several reasons for their support, ranging from “I’m signing because every human being deserves the same respect and dignity” to “It’s 2017” to “I am an alumni of Mercy high school. … This is not a shining moment for Mercy.’”
Other high schools have banned same-sex dates in the past: In late 2016, a former student at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn., filed a $1 million lawsuit against the institution for not allowing him to take a male date to homecoming.
In 2011, St. Anthony’s High School in Long Island, N.Y., banned same-sex prom dates because to do otherwise would send a “mixed message” to students. And in 2010, after a school rejected a female student’s request to wear a tux and bring a female date, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi filed a lawsuit against the Itawamba County School District. In response, the school canceled its prom.
Other students have had happier outcomes. In 2011, the organization GLBTQ Club of UTSA staged a “Second Chance” prom for Texas college kids who missed their high school event because they weren’t permitted to take same-sex dates. The dance was held, complete with punch, silly photos, a DJ, and attendance by both gay and straight students.
“High school is an extremely crucial part of everyone’s life, and the prom is too,” a gay attendee who took a female date to his high school prom told San Antonio Express-News. “Everyone remembers prom.”
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