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ACLU fights Ala. high school that bans lesbian from prom

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The American Civil Liberties Union is demanding that an Alabama High School allow a student to bring a lesbian date to next year’s prom.

Cynthia Stewart is a junior at Tharptown High School and a member of the prom planning committee. But, she says, school officials have denied her request to take her girlfriend to the event. When Stewart said it was against the law for the school to discriminate against her – the ACLU says some teachers threatened drastic measures.

Sun: “Some teachers announced that the prom had been canceled altogether, solely in order to get out of allowing Cynthia to bring her girlfriend to the prom.”

Christine Sun is Senior Counsel for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. Sun said it is unclear whether or not the prom actually HAS been canceled, or whether that was just a threat. She says the school is violating Stewart’s rights to freedom of expression, and equal protection.

Sun said she suspects the school’s argument will be that parents of other students will be upset if Stewart brings her girlfriend – but she says that argument is unconstitutional.

Sun: “The law does not allow schools to discriminate because people are prejudiced against gay people. It’s just not a valid basis to suppress Cynthia’s free speech rights or to discriminate against her.”

A school official told the Times Daily newspaper they are in the process of “re-evaluating” the issue – but said if they do allow Stewart’s request, her girlfriend will still need to go through a ‘screening process’ that prom dates from other districts must pass. The ACLU says the school has still not given them an official response.

 –Aaron McQuade

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Written by OutQ News staff

November 12, 2009 at 3:20 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

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