One student who supports the ban told a local NBC affiliate: “We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don’t think it’s right nor should it be accepted.”
The high school says it cannot ban gay and lesbian students from attending, but school officials can do more to condemn the efforts underway and send a message that singling out LGBT students is unacceptable. One student referred to a prom that would prohibit LGBT youth as a “good” prom, while a special education teacher in the area said she believes allowing LGBT kids to attend the high school’s prom is “offensive.”
“It’s disheartening to see some community members make such an explicit attempt at singling out LGBT youth for exclusion from a prom, which is a milestone event for so many young people,” said HRC Vice President for Communications Fred Sainz. “We know that LGBT youth are twice as likely as their straight peers to face bullying, and 92 percent of them hear negative things about being gay. Our teachers and community leaders should be striving to create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming, not one that marginalises kids and says who they are is wrong.”
A Facebook page set-up by those backing attempts to ban LGBT students from the prom is now defunct, but a page set-up to support all Sullivan High School students – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – has attracted nearly 5,000 likes.
“We should be teaching our children to treat others as they wish to be treated. It’s unfortunate that some of the adults in Sullivan are instead sending a message to youth in the community that there is something fundamentally wrong with LGBT people,” added Sainz.
Last year, HRC released a groundbreaking youth survey that illustrates the obstacles LGBT youth face. The survey found that 42 percent of LGBT youth say they live in a community that isn’t accepting of LGBT people. Nearly one-third of youth say their biggest problems in life include not being accepted by their family, bullying at school and a fear of living openly. And 92 percent of youth say they hear negative messages from others about being LGBT.
HRC is calling on its members and supporters to speak out against the discriminatory “separate but equal” prom movement by taking action at convio.net.