Tuscaloosa County, AL Threatened with Lawsuit for Censoring Gay Student, Barring Her from Prom

The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education is being threatened with a lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is ordering the district "to stop its censorship of speech supportive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and its prohibition against same-sex couples at the prom" according to the Tuscaloosa News.

GarrettThe threat stems from at least one alleged incident in early January:

On Jan. 5, a Brookwood High School administrator asked Elizabeth Garrett, a 10th-grader at Brookwood, to remove a hooded sweatshirt with a slogan on it reading, “Warning, This Individual Infected With ‘The Gay,' Proceed With Caution.”

When asked why she had to take off the sweatshirt, the administrator told Garrett that it was distracting, said Sam Wolfe, the SPLC attorney leading the case. Garret disagreed with the administrator, but took off the sweatshirt in the bathroom while the administrator waited outside to confirm that she had removed the sweatshirt when she came out.

According to the SPLC:

On another occasion during this school year, the same administrator informed Elizabeth that same-sex couples are not permitted to attend the school prom together. Elizabeth has plans to attend the prom, in May, with another female student.

Elizabeth says she is taking this action not only for herself “but for others like me who feel trampled over by the school and don’t always have an opportunity to stand up for themselves.”

Tuscaloosa County Schools Superintendent Frank Costanzo says there is no record of the incident and there is no written policy barring same-sex couples from attending prom.

The SPLC has given the school district a date of February 1 to comply with its demands or be sued.

The SPLC's page on the case is here.


  1. Raybob says

    I always wonder why these kids didn’t do what *we* did in the 80’s: go with a date of the opposite sex, then switch when you get there. I spent an incredible prom night at Disney in 78 with the man of my dreams that way, and my date spent the evening with her woman. How hard is this? Obey the letter of the “ruling”, then switch when you get there.

  2. MiloTock says

    @Raybob — The point is why should they have to engage in any deceit at all to attend their prom together? They should be able to walk into their prom, as a same-sex couple, exactly the same way that any straight couple would.

  3. Daniel Ramming says

    How can we still be having this debate? This should be settled case law. Aaron Fricke successfully defended his right to take another male to his prom in 1980. As far as I know every student who has sued has won. Come on wake up elected officials, you are going to lose. So stop trying to impose antiquated gender roles.

  4. Jesse Tyler Bowman says

    I live in moody not so far from you!!!! Just wanted to say you are so awesome!! :p I’m bisexual and have been hated on by a bunch of people but its a new year so thank you for giving me confidence to go on oh by the way bitchin sweatshirt!!!!!

  5. lisa says

    i go to school with her, she’s an amazing person and so brave . i love her to death <3