It’s starting to seem like the State of Mississippi has declared an outright war on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teens. This bully pulpit is evident in numerous decisions by school districts to exclude openly LGBT kids from school activities.
There’s the obvious and well publicized case of Constance McMillen, an openly lesbian student at Itawamba Agricultural High School (“IAHS”), who, after receiving notice that same-sex couples would not be allowed at the school’s prom, requested permission from school officials to take a same-sex date. School officials knew they couldn’t legally deny her request, but to prevent her from taking the date she wanted to (and from wearing a tux) they canceled the event all together. The school eventually had two proms, sending Constance and a few other students to one and the rest of the students to another.
Of course, this wasn’t the first attack at IAHS against LGBT students and won’t likely be the last. Prior to Constance there was Juin Baize, who was suspended for being biologically male but wearing make-up and woman’s clothing.
It seems it’s now Copiah County School District’s turn at the bully pulpit. Graduating senior, Ceara Sturgis, not only had her photograph removed from the yearbook because of her choice to wear a tuxedo and sport a “male” hairstyle, but there was no mention of her in the yearbook.
That story line may sound a bit familiar to my fellow Gleeks? In the Mattress episode of Glee, Rachel wanted the Glee Club photo included in the yearbook; however, Sue Sylvester objected stating that it would subject the student’s photos to graffiti and humiliation (her real purpose wasn’t so noble). History had not been kind to the outcasts of the Glee Club as photographs were defaced with mean commentary by fellow students; essentially because the vast majority felt that the Glee Club was representative of the outcasts, the geeks, the nerds and the homos. Unlike in Mississippi, however, the Glee photograph made it into the yearbook.
While no state is immune to bigotry, Mississippi has long since had a reputation for racism, homophobia and sexism that is virtually unchallengeable. Through the “Christian Identity Movement,” many Mississippians have excused their hate in the guise of religion. Members of my own family from the state have preached the soullessness of the black man (the Curse of Ham), women’s servitude of man, and homophobia in the name of Biblical law. While it must be stated that not all Mississippians feel the same, it certainly seems to be a prevalent and recurring issue.
Maybe it’s time we give Mississippi a little dose of Glee – Equality style.