The American Humanist Association (AHA) has stepped forward and offered to plan and fund a prom for the Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi. The Itawamba County School District made headlines earlier this week by cancelling their prom rather than letting a lesbian student, Constance McMillen, bring her girlfriend as her date.
“It’s shameful that closed-minded members of the school board are prepared to deprive an entire class of students their prom over their outdated religious mores.” said Roy Speckhardt, Executive Director of the AHA. "People can hold to any belief or no belief in this nation, but the school board misuses their position when they try to impose their beliefs on the student population in Itawamba.”
McMillen was barred from the prom after making it known that she intended to bring a same-sex date. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi became involved and demanded the school reverse its policy. The school board responded by cancelling the prom.
“The ACLU is doing good work in Mississippi, and we humanists can also bring resources to the table that will defend students from a repressive school board,” added Speckhardt. “Prom is a special event for teens across America; we’ll make sure it’s a special night for these students as well.”
AHA members Todd and Diana Stiefel made a $20,000 grant available to the AHA for the purpose of holding a prom in Itawamba County. The AHA will be discussing logistics with the pertinent parties today.
Humanists and freethinkers have a history of speaking up for the rights of all. The AHA was among the first to support civil rights, equal pay for equal work, and the right of same-sex couples to marry. Recently the AHA launched the LGBT Humanist Council to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families. (www.lgbthumanists.org).
The American Humanist Association advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.