It's prom fever nationwide. That is, the season when gay students try to challenge draconian school rules forbidding them from bringing same-sex dates to the senior prom. This year, the stories have centered around two students—one of whom has revealed that has been asked to leave home.
Constance McMillen, a lesbian high-schooler from Mississippi, began this year's prom controversies when her school decided they would prefer to cancel the prom than see her arrive wearing a tux and hand-in-hand with a female date. A media firestorm ensued, with businesses across the country offering to host the school's prom instead. This week, Constance's case got an additional boost from a federal court ruling holding that her rights were violated—though the court did not attempt to force the school to reinstate the prom.
Inspired by Constance's courage, Derrick Martin, an 18 year-old student at Bleckley County High School in Cochran, GA. Martin decided to bring a male date to his own prom, but was told by the school that he would not be permitted to do so. Martin challenged the school on the grounds that, though they had a policy of requiring permission to bring any date who was not a student at the school, the only criteria for granting permission was that the student be under age 21. “It’s my senior prom," he told the Macon Telegraph, "and I wanted to be able to prove not everyone would cancel prom.” And he was right—unlike in the case of Constance McMillen, here the school relented.
This should be a happy story—after all, the media attention around the events earned Martin sympathy from around the world, and the promise of a pretty swank prom, as strangers offered to pay for the entire evening. "I appreciate it," Martin told the Macon Telegraph. "I was speechless that they said they would buy me dinner or buy me a tux in case someone messed mine up.” But in a disturbing twist, Martin also told the paper that he was currently staying with a friend, as his parents had told him to leave home due to the excessive media attention.
Even so, Martin seems to think it's all worth it. “It’s standing up for the rights thing, especially after the Mississippi canceled prom,” he told the newspaper. “It’s senior prom. It’s pretty big.”