Teen can't bring date to prom, district may face legal action

Published: Feb. 15, 2013 at 3:15 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2013 at 7:57 PM CST
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SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - They're words that may not mean much to some, but for others like Stacy Dawson, it's a big deal.

"I was really shocked, and it was really depressing," said Dawson.

Dawson asked Scott County Central administrators if he could bring his same-sex date to the senior prom.

"The school board says since it was in the handbook it could be awhile before it was changed, and I probably would not be able to bring my date," said Dawson.

The handbook states, "High School students will be permitted to invite one guest, girls invite boys and boys invite girls."

"We looked at the policy and realized it was blatantly unconstitutional," said Alesdair Ittelson.

Ittelson is a staff attorney for the civil rights group Southern Poverty Law Center.

Ittelson sent a letter to Scott County Central School District Officials requesting them to change the handbook.

[Read the letter sent to the school district]

"It tells LGBT students that they don't deserve the same rights as their heterosexual peers, and that's not right and that's not constitutional," said Ittelson.

"I think it's an incredibly important issue because it's not only for me, but it's anyone who comes after me, I want them to not have to go through this, and I just think it's really important for them to bring whoever they want to prom in the future," said Dawson.

The letter gives the district until 5 p.m. on February 25, 2013 to change the policy, or face a lawsuit.

"The ball is in their court, everything has been laid out as to how they could come into compliance and it's just a matter of whether or not they do," said Ittelson.

"I think this is an incredibly big deal especially since I'm a senior, I'm not going to have another one of these," said Dawson.

While Dawson hopes the school will change the handbook so he can bring his date, he wants to create awareness, so others can bring theirs.

"Hopefully, if there's any other schools that are around and they see like what's happening here, that if they have the same policy, maybe they'll change it too, so not only this school will have the policy changed to where anybody can bring anybody to prom, but other schools will follow their direction," said Dawson.

Heartland News spoke with Scott County Central Superintendent Alvin McFerren on Thursday. He said he cannot comment on the issue since it's a student matter.

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