The Southern Poverty Law Center has just issued a statement praising the Scott County Central School District in Sikeston for its decision to officially remove discriminatory language against same-sex couples from rules governing its high school prom.
The decision was sparked by Stacy Dawson, a 17-year-old senior who was the first to raise objections to troubling language he found in his school's student handbook.
"I think I'm the first to actually come out and say I want something done," Dawson told Daily RFT back in mid-February.
Dawson brought his concerns to a school counselor when he read the words "girls invite boys and boys invite girls" in the rules governing Scott County Central High School's prom. When he asked the counselor about it, she apparently inferred that this meant he would not be able to bring his boyfriend (who has already graduated from another school) to the April 20th dance.
Dawson reached out to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which sent a letter threatening legal action. The school's response in the media was immediate: Banning same-sex couples was never the intention of the language. Rather this was allegedly some arcane language written to deal with ticket sales.
"It was never intended to be a discriminatory thing," Superintendent Alvin McFerren told NBC News.
Dawson says he received an outpouring of support from both his peers and school administrators, but his SPLC lawyers said they would remain vigilant until they saw follow-through from the district. This week, the Scott County Central Board of Education made good on their word and repealed the policy with a unanimous 7-0 vote.
"We are happy that the school district has agreed to recognize and support the rights of all students including its LGBT students. All students, regardless of whether they are gay or straight, may now attend prom with the date of their choice," said Dawson's attorney Alesdair Ittelson in a statement. "Stacy is thrilled that he will be able to take his boyfriend to prom and share the experience with someone he cares for deeply."
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