ACLU Blasts Wyoming School for Having Police Escort Same-Sex Couple Out of Homecoming Dance

Affiliate: ACLU of Wyoming
November 21, 2003 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Wyoming
Media Contact
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BIG PINEY, WY — After two girls were marched out of a high school homecoming dance by police, the American Civil Liberties Union today sent a letter to school officials demanding that they allow same-sex couples to attend school dances.

“”I couldn’t believe that our school was so threatened by the idea of two girls going to the homecoming together that they had police officers waiting for us,”” said Amanda Blair, a senior at Big Piney High School in rural western Wyoming. Blair added, “”It’s really sad that this is the kind of attitude that lesbian and gay students at my school will face when they want to bring a date to a school dance.””

Blair, an honor student who participates in swimming, band, basketball, track, and choir, had listed a female friend as her homecoming date when she signed up for the September 12 dance. School officials told her that same-sex dates aren’t allowed at dances. Blair is heterosexual, but she and her friend decided to attend together in order to help lesbian and gay students in her district who may want to bring dates to school dances in the future. When Blair and her date arrived at the dance the next evening they were met by local police officers, who then escorted them off the premises without any explanation.

“”Too many schools don’t understand that students have a Constitutional right to take a same-sex date to events like homecoming and prom,”” said Ken Choe, a staff attorney with the Lesbian & Gay Rights Project of the ACLU. “”Amanda and her date were illegally prevented from doing the same things that other couples attending a school dance do — seeing their friends, getting their picture taken, and having a fun evening.””

In a letter sent today to officials at Sublette County District #9, the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and the ACLU of Wyoming demand that the illegal policy be lifted, citing a 1980 federal case in Rhode Island. In that case, a federal judge ruled that students who want to bring same-sex dates to school dances are not only protected under the free expression provisions of the First Amendment, but that schools must take steps to ensure their safety when they do bring same-sex dates to school dances. In the 23 years since Fricke v. Lynch was decided, students throughout the U.S. have brought same-sex dates to school dances without incident.

“”Our family is outraged that Amanda was treated like a common criminal just for trying to take who she wanted to the dance,”” said Kris Blair, Amanda’s mother. She added, “”I’m proud that my daughter is standing up for the rights of her gay and lesbian friends. Gay students in our town should not have to face this kind of humiliation in the future.””

The Fricke v. Lynch decision can be read at http://archive.aclu.org/court/fricke_decision.html.

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