Itawamba students say prom issue out of proportion

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

FULTON – Students at Itawamba Agricultural High School said that they were disappointed one day after the school’s prom was canceled.
Many said they felt the issue of whether same-sex dates should be allowed at the dance had been blown out of proportion.
“I don’t think it should have been such a big deal,” said junior Preston Moffett. “Students wouldn’t have minded if those two people had gone to the dance.
“But I am glad the school is standing up for what they believe in and fighting against it.”
The Itawamba County School District canceled the dance on Wednesday, the deadline set in an ACLU demand that it allow same-sex dates to attend the prom. The ACLU sent its letter to the school on behalf of senior Constance McMillen, who was told by school officials that she could not attend the dance with her girlfriend.
The school board’s statement did not cite McMillen or the ACLU but said the dance was canceled “due to distractions in the educational process.”
“I don’t think it is fair what they are doing, but I also understand that they’re trying to make our education the number one priority,” said junior Tiffany Comer.
The high school has 135 juniors and 152 seniors, and 171 of them had already bought tickets for the dance.
T.J. Denson, who owns TJ’s Pageant & Formal Wear in Fulton, said that “75 to 100 girls” had already made deposits for dresses. Although those deposits are supposed to be nonrefundable, she said she feels that she should return the money if the dance isn’t rescheduled.
“My daughter called me crying,” said Denson, whose daughter Savannah is a junior at the school. “She’s had her dress picked out for months and she was excited because it is her first prom.”
Brad Chatham, whose son is a senior at Itawamba AHS, said he believes parents will put on a prom for the students. In fact, a group of parents met Thursday night to plan one.
“My reaction is that now we’re going to have to pay for a prom,” Chatham said. “The whole thing is a shame. My personal opinion was if they looked the other way and didn’t call so much attention to it, it might have gone away.”
Savannah Denson said she didn’t agree with the district’s decision.
“I think she should be able to go to prom with her girlfriend,” she said. “God gives us the free will to be who we are and choose the people around us. She has the freedom.”
Denson said students talked about the decision in class and that the student body appeared to be split.
Teachers at the school received calls and e-mails about the issue.
IAHS senior Lindsey Begley said it was sad that this will be one of the last memories for the senior class.
“We wish this hadn’t happened,” Begley said. “No one cared whether she went or not. No one was going to be uncomfortable.
“This was going to be our last hurrah.”