Victory In Tuscaloosa As Schools Allow Gay Couples Into Prom

ElizabethGarrettElizabeth Garrett caused quite a ruckus at her Tuscaloosa, Alabama, high school in January by wearing a sweatshirt showing her gay pride: "Warning, This Individual Infected With ‘The Gay,’ Proceed With Caution."

It wasn't long of course before skiddish administrators told her to remove her hoodie. Soon after, they also announced that same-sex couples are prohibited from attending prom, so the Southern Poverty Law Center got involved and began rattling its litigious sabers.

After months of legal discussions and loads of bad press, the school system now says they will not only allow same-sex couples to prom, but will also let students where pro-equality apparel.

Via the SLPC:

Tuscaloosa County Schools will allow its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students to attend prom with same-sex dates. The school district also has recognized the right of students to wear clothing with slogans expressing acceptance of LGBT people.

“Prom is an occasion that most students look forward to,” Elizabeth said. “I’m happy that I’ll get to go to prom for the first time. Although, I’m not a confrontational person, it was important to stand up for who I am and to speak out for other students.”
Statements supportive of LGBT people, as well as attending the prom with a same-sex date, are protected under the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. This is true even in communities that harbor anti-gay sentiment. LGBT students are increasingly living true to who they are and they deserve the respect and support of their schools.
“School officials should not be quick to ban speech expressing an opinion they simply dislike,” Wolfe said. “Banning such speech is usually a bad answer and can subject a school system to expensive litigation.”

Sadly, this likely won't stop other schools from discriminating against LGBT students, but at least it helps set a cultural precedent.


  1. K in VA says

    It’s a damned shame we have to fight these battles one backward school at a time, again and again and again.

  2. David Hearne says

    K in VA: It’s annoyingly slow of a process, but I think you would agree that it’s better than a simple majority rules iron fist coming down from the federal government. On the one hand, you shouldn’t have to move to have equal rights, but on the other than at least you can in the US whereas a totally federal system means “No means no.” and is a much harder fight, especially when the majority is against you as it was here until recently.

    It’s also important to remember that for every one of these showdown cases, there are places like Pinellas County Florida which are under pressure from religious groups to discriminate, but which decide (Republican and Democratic politicians) that it’s not worth the legal, economic, and social hassle.

  3. Thomasina says

    In addition to the mistakes already noted by previous posters, there is also a fairly large error of fact here: this school is not in Tuscaloosa; it is in Brookwood, Alabama. “Tuscaloosa” is the name of both a county and a city, just like “Sacramento,” “New York,” and “New Haven,” but that doesn’t make every town inside Tuscaloosa County into Tuscaloosa.

  4. Grover Underwood says

    I think the definitions of skittish and skiddish are moving closer to where they may be synonyms

    I had to look them both up to see which was the correct word and yes, it is skittish

  5. Where-I-Wear-It says

    Yay, a happy ending!

    But: Towleroad has become a lot less careful about proper spelling lately…

  6. ShawntheSheep says

    David Hearne,

    Yes, I think we can all agree that the civil rights movement of the 1960s was not helped at all by the so-called “iron fist of the federal government.”

    If not for the “iron fist of the federal government” there are almost definitely school districts in the south that would still be racially segregated. But don’t let that get in the way of your views on the superiority of local governmental control.

  7. Dan says

    I’m inclined to agree with David Hearne on this one. As frustrating as it can be, fighting local battles like this is the only way perception is really changed. If we tried to solve this problem through the federal govt. rather than the courts, suspicious conservatives would see the iron fist of govt. at work and ignore the law, resulting in a backlash against LGBT kids in places like the South. Instead, a human face was put on this struggle: a lesbian teen who just wanted the right to enjoy her prom, just like her straight peers. This is the way to win the battle where it counts. Passing a law would only provide LGBT adults the illusion that we’ve already won battles that have yet to be fought.
    “If not for the ‘iron fist of the federal government’ there are almost definitely school districts in the south that would still be racially segregated.”
    Would still be?
    You might wanna read up on how that went ( before jumping on the big govt. bandwagon.

  8. mary says

    A victory for free speech and gay acceptance, so I’m happy with the outcome. But….

    Will Towleroad readers ever give anyone Southern credit for “evolving”? Will every one else here give up and finally create his own blog in order to show Kiwi that he’s “grown a pair?” Will we ever find out of Rick and Jason are the same person? Will NOM ever find a spokesperson who isn’t substantially overweight? Will Pat Robertson tell us to pull Grimm’s Fairy Tales from our children’s book collections because he mistakenly thinks Grimm was one of the leaders of the Stonewall Riots? Will Mary have to come out in support of marriage equality to prove that she is a supporter of the gay community and not a “troll?” Will TJ ever be able to forgive people who once used the term “homoballistic?” Will RIN and Ernie make another appearance?

    Tune in tomorrow for another episode of “As the Towleroad Turns……”

    (…..just trying to lighten my mood,folks. I’ve had one of those “everything went wrong today” days.)