You Wanna Go to the Prom?

You either asked someone or you were asked, but those six words were probably uttered at some point, and probably quite awkwardly. This year, somewhere in America, in a small town full of baseball fields and bakeries, churches and bowling alleys, a VFW club and a Dairy Queen, a young high school student took a deep breath and asked that timeless question, "You wanna go to the prom?"

I never quite understood why gay women get the noun and gay men get the adjective, but so be it, this particular girl happens to be a lesbian. The most important part of that sentence, of course, is the girl part. Constance McMillen is simply a girl, a girl who got butterflies in her stomach when she asked her girlfriend, "You wanna go to the prom?"

As we all know by now, the school said no. I did mention that she's a lesbian, didn't I? They can't let their kids see a girl dancing with another girl. They get enough of that from the internet. And cheerleading. So they did what any respectable teaching institution would do. They looked right at Constance McMillen's beautiful brown eyes and said, "You're kidding, right? You wanna go to the prom?!"

What the school wasn't counting on was that this is no ordinary girl. After all, she had already shown extraordinary steel just by being comfortable in her own skin. Most of us have experienced some level of adolescent cruelty in our lives, but what we probably never contemplated was the staggering viciousness that could be generated from those six simple and innocent words, "You wanna go to the prom?"

Maybe it shouldn't have surprised the school board that this brave young woman would have the guts to assert her rights in court under the U.S. constitution, and in so doing, took on her entire school, her town, and everyone that said she's less than the rest of us. And maybe it shouldn't have surprised them that she'd win. Because the law says you're alive and you're a teenager and of course you wanna go to the prom.

Needless to say, the parents at the school didn't take this news well, so they gritted their teeth and made a plan. They glared down at Constance McMillen and they said, "Fine, you wanna go to the prom..."

I hate to break it to you, but cruelty doesn't stop at adolescence. Apparently, these people, if you can believe it, sent Constance and her date to a prom alright, but this "prom" was a sparsely populated gathering with a few of the other kids who were deemed "different," while they held a secret prom for everyone else. Naturally, Constance found out about the other prom and, with that, she received a final lesson from her school and community. Maybe she never should have uttered those words to begin with. Was it really worth it? What was she thinking when she dared ask a person she cared for, "You wanna go to the prom?"

I have a challenge to every prom committee out there in every city, town, and village across America. Show the world that we're not all like the parents and students of the Itawamba County School district. Send an invitation to Constance McMillen. You don't need to be elaborate, no pomp and circumstance, you just need to send a note to Constance, via the ACLU of Mississipi, that asks simply, "You wanna go to the prom?"