With Constance McMillen back in the news again for her recent appearance as a grand marshal in New York City’s Gay Pride March, it’s a perfect opportunity to look at how far the South has come. And yes, I’m serious. There’s this stereotypical notion that everyone living south of the Mason-Dixon line is a bigoted, racist, toothless, cousin-marrying, Republican-loving maniac. However, in the wake of the McMillen tragedy, the South is actually becoming … progressive. Well, kind of.
Mississippi native McMillen, who made national news last year for wanting to go to the prom with the date of her choice, planned on attending her high school prom in a tuxedo with a female date. School officials put the kibosh on this and, following McMillen’s acquisition of ACLU representation, canceled the prom.
Most accounts of the McMillen case describe her as having “divided America,” in the words of the Daily Mail, or as a soldier in the “seemingly unwinnable fight in America’s deep south between gay rights and conservatives,” as the Guardian put it. The Christian Science Monitor called recent conflicts over same-sex dates the newest permutation of the “Dixie prom wars,” referring to the region’s past resistance to racially integrated proms. But, in fact, McMillen’s case, and specifically her school’s refusal to come around, is an anomaly. Her impending trial may be one of the last such battles in the South because, legally at least, the region has acknowledged and protected the rights of LGBT students.
If you think about it, the Itawamba school district is pretty stupid. As Slate points out, similar incidences in states including Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, and Tennessee led to the school board backing down when facing litigation claiming the violation of constitutional rights (I wonder how Janine Turner feels about this?).
You Might Also Like ...