SIKESTON, Mo. — An openly gay teen in the southeast Missouri town of Sikeston will be allowed to take his boyfriend to the prom, school district officials said Friday.
The news comes just one day after the Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday accused the Scott County Central School District of discrimination and gave the district until Feb. 25 to revise a school policy that prohibits same-sex couples from attending school dances together.
Stacy Dawson, 17, challenged the policy in the student handbook that stated, “high school students will be permitted to invite one guest, girls invite boys and boys invite girls.”
“I’m doing this for anyone to bring anyone they want to prom,” Stacy told LGBTQ Nation prior to the ban being lifted. “I hope that my school and the school board members understand its a wrong policy.”
On his behalf, the SPLC sent the school district a demand letter Thursday, calling for an end to the “unconstitutional policy.”
On Friday, the school district told the Associated Press they were removing the offending line from their handbook, and that the policy was never meant to be exclusive in the first place.
“This was during a time 10-15 years ago that the previous administration was having issues with some of the students trying to come in on either the single rate or the couple rate. They implemented that to make sure they couldn’t circumvent the rates that students were supposed to pay as they entered into our dances,” said Alvin McFerren, Scott County Central School District superintendent.McFerren said Dawson will be allowed to go to prom with his boyfriend, but as of 5 p.m. ET on Friday, the SPLC said it had not yet received any indication from the school district that the policy had been rescinded.
“We welcome the change that has been reported in the media and Superintendent McFerrens remarks that Stacy will be allowed to attend prom with his boyfriend, although we have not yet received written confirmation that the unlawful policy has been permanently rescinded and removed from the student handbook,” Alesdair Ittelson, staff attorney for the SPLC, told LGBTQ Nation.
“If it is indeed true that the policy has been permanently changed, it represents a big step forward for LGBT students in a part of the country that frequently lacks community support for students like Stacy. We applaud Stacy’s bravery in standing up for his rights,” she said.