An 18-year-old senior at Bleckley County High School in Georgia has received his school’s permission to attend this year’s prom with his boyfriend.
In stark contrast to a Mississippi school’s decision to cancel its prom rather than allow a lesbian student to attend the dance with her girlfriend, school officials in Cochran, GA, approved Derrick Martin’s request to take another boy to the April 17 prom.
“I didn’t expect them to say yes,” he said. “It’s who I am. I have the same rights.
“It’s my senior prom, and I wanted to be able to prove not everyone would cancel prom.”
Martin, an honor student who tutors at-risk elementary and middle school students after school, knew the move would be controversial for the town of about 5,200 residents.
At his high school, prom dates from outside counties must be approved in advance, so back in January Martin went to his principal and asked.
“You don’t have the right to say no,” principal Michelle Masters said. “As a principal, I don’t judge him. I’m taught not to judge. I have to push my own beliefs to the background.”
Charlotte Pipkin, the superintendent of schools, said “Students are allowed to bring their date to prom. There’s nothing that says who the date is.”
More from WMAZ-TV:
Martin came out as gay during his sophomore year in high school, but even now he said not all his classmates are tolerant.
Even if there is a backlash, both educators said they won’t cancel or change their plans for the prom. It would not be fair to the students, Pipkin said.
Update: 3/24/10: Martin said he’s received an outpouring of support and some criticism over the last 24 hours since speaking publicly about his plans to attend prom with his boyfriend.
He also said his parents have kicked him out of the house and he’s currently living with a friend, citing all the media attention. More here >