Alabama School Reverses Decision To Bar Lesbian Student From Attending Prom With Her Girlfriend

For Immediate Release

Alabama School Reverses Decision To Bar Lesbian Student From Attending Prom With Her Girlfriend

RUSSELLVILLE, AL - The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded Franklin County
School System officials for reversing their decision barring a lesbian
student from attending the school prom with her girlfriend.

The School System's about-face, permitting 17-year-old Tharptown
High School junior Cynthia Stewart to bring her girlfriend to the
upcoming March 25 prom, came after the ACLU sent a letter to the school
on November 10 demanding that their initial decision be reversed.

"All I wanted all along was to be myself and have a fun night at
prom like any other student," said Stewart. "Prom's going to be
amazing, and I can't wait to walk in that door with my girlfriend on my
arm."

Stewart, a member of the prom planning committee, who personally
raised over $200 for the event and created the theme her classmates
chose for it, was told by her principal earlier this month that she
would not be allowed to bring her girlfriend to the dance.

Stewart's aunt and guardian, Kathy Baker, approached ACLU of Alabama
board member and local attorney Henry F. Sherrod III for assistance
after the school board turned down her appeal of the principal's
decision. Some teachers announced in classes that prom was being
canceled altogether as a way to avoid having to let Cynthia bring her
date.

"It's unfortunate that we had to step in to remind this school of
its constitutional obligations to its students, but we're pleased that
they're finally doing the right thing," said Sherrod. "Schools should
treat all students equally, and not have a separate set of rules for
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students."

In its letter to Franklin County School System officials, the ACLU
cited cases both in Alabama state court and federal court guaranteeing
students' First Amendment right to bring same-sex dates to school
dances.

"Schools everywhere would do well to take note of this school's
decision to obey Federal law and not discriminate against students who
want to bring same-sex dates to school dances," said Christine P. Sun,
Senior Counsel with the ACLU national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender
Project, who represents Stewart along with Sherrod. "By standing up for
herself, Cynthia Stewart has stood up for LGBT students all over the
country."

Additional information, including a short video about Stewart's story and a copy of the school's letter, is available at http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/russellville-alabama-school-prom-discrimination.

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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