Articles tagged with: Day of Silence
Pres. Obama endorses national safe schools and nondiscrimination laws; the shrinking antigay base; and other recent LGBTQ news selected by Sara Boesser in Juneau, Alaska.
Day of Silence in protest of the bullying and silencing of LGBT students and their allies is being observed on Friday, April 20, in high schools and colleges throughout the nation — including, in Alaska, UAF and UAA.
In this month’s “Ask Lambda Legal” column, Lambda Legal answers a high school student’s question about GLSEN’s Day of Silence, which will be observed on April 20.
University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) observes SafeZone Celebration Week on from April 12 through 20, with a host of SafeZone activities on the UAA campus and at University Center in midtown Anchorage.
Today is GLSEN’s 2011 Day of Silence.
“Hundreds of thousands of students at thousands of middle schools, high schools and colleges will take some form of a vow of silence to bring attention to anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.”
- Because nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in American schools each year.
- Because 60% of LGBT youth feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
- Because nearly 1 out of 3 LGBT youth missed school in the past month because of safety concerns.
Think about the voices you’re not hearing today.
Students have a First Amendment right to bring a same-sex date and wear gender non-conforming clothes to the prom, a federal court ruled today. School officials violated Constance McMillen’s rights when they canceled the prom rather than let her attend with her girlfriend and wear a tux.
“All I ever wanted was for my school to treat me and my girlfriend like any other couple that wants to go to prom,” said McMillen, an 18-year-old senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi. “Now we can all get back to things like picking out our prom night outfits and thinking about corsages.”
School officials told McMillen that she could not arrive at the prom with her girlfriend, who is also a student at the school, and that they might be thrown out if any other students complained about their presence. The school board canceled the prom when the ACLU and the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition demanded that the district reverse its decision.
In the 12-page ruling, the court wrote, “The record shows Constance has been openly gay since eighth grade and she intended to communicate a message by wearing a tuxedo and to express her identity through attending prom with a same-sex date. The Court finds this expression and communication of her viewpoint is the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment. The Court is also of the opinion that the motive behind the School Board’s cancellation of the prom, or withdrawal of their sponsorship, was Constance’s requests and the ACLU’s demand letter sent on her behalf.” Further, the court says that since the school represented the private prom being organized by parents at a furniture store as open to all students, then the court expects that event will indeed invite McMillen and her girlfriend.
McMillen said that she plans to attend the “private” prom, but has also long planned to attend the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition’s Second Chance Prom, to be held Saturday, May 8 in Tupelo. That event, sponsored by Green Day, Tonic.com, Iron Chef Cat Cora, and Lance Bass, among others, will be open to all LGBT students in the state, as well as straight students who are LGBT-supportive. The MSSC and the ACLU deal every year with complaints from LGBT students all over Mississippi who face resistance from their schools about bringing same-sex dates to proms or who don’t feel safe going to their own school proms.
“Today’s ruling isn’t just a win for Constance and her girlfriend – it’s a win for all the students at her school, and for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students who just want to be able to be themselves at school without being treated unfairly,” said Kristy Bennett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “Public schools can’t just stomp on students’ free expression rights just because they don’t want to deal with these students, and if schools do try to do that they’ll be dealing with us.”
In Alaska, some LGBT students bring same sex dates to their school prom, if they feel comfortable doing that. Many don’t attend prom or bring an opposite sex friend to fit in. But they have the right to bring a same sex date, if they want to.
Alaska also has an alternate prom for LGBT students and their high school allies. The annual Pride Prom is the closing event for Day of Silence/Night of Noise, organized in Anchorage by the Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs.