( Anniston, AL, February 14, 2018 ) Lambda Legal received a response from east Alabama's Calhoun County School District today that an Alexandria High School lesbian couple will be able to attend prom together. One of the Alexandria High School juniors had been disciplined for "promposing" to her girlfriend during a school talent show, which cast doubt as to whether the students would be permitted to attend prom together.
"We are encouraged by the school's response and we are pleased the district has provided clear and unequivocal confirmation that the girls can attend prom together. This is a great first step, and we are hopeful that we can work together with Calhoun County School District to effect real change for LGBT students because every student deserves a safe and affirming environment," said Lambda Legal Senior Attorney and Students' Rights Strategist Paul D. Castillo. "There is still work ahead, but today Janizia and Raven are excited about prom, and we couldn't be more thrilled that they can continue planning for their big night."
"When you have children who are black and who are LGBT, you are always worried about their safety. We look to our schools to create safe spaces for them when they are away from us at home. I'm glad that we have proof that my daughter and her girlfriend can go to prom together, and I hope that is a sign that our children will be treated like every other student going forward," said Jeanise Ross-Walton, Janizia's mother.
"My girlfriend and I have been looking forward to prom night for weeks. I am so relieved that the school said we can go to prom together. Now we can get back to dress shopping just like all the other girls in school," said Janizia Ross.
Last week, Lambda Legal sent a letter to Calhoun County School District Superintendent Joe Dyar and Alexandria High School Principal Mack Holley underscoring the school district's legal responsibility, according to the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, to respect the sexual orientation of all its students and not to discriminate against students on the basis of their sex. The letter requested that the District give written assurances to Janizia and Raven that there would be no impediment to them attending prom together on March 10. The letter also requested a written apology to the students and their families and to expunge any disciplinary history related to the "promposal" from school records.
Today, Lambda Legal received a letter from Calhoun County School District Superintendent Joe Dyar and Alexandria High School Principal Mack Holley in response confirming that Janizia and Raven will be able to attend prom together. The request to expunge any disciplinary history and other steps outlined in Lambda Legal's letter continue to be reviewed by the District.
Read the letter: www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/al_20180208_letter-to-calhoun-county-school-district .
To Know Your Rights at Prom: www.lambdalegal.org/know-your-rights/article/youth-dances .
Senior Attorney and Students' Rights Strategist Paul D. Castillo and Counsel Tara Borelli are handling the matter for Lambda Legal, joined by pro-bono co-counsel David Gespass of Gespass & Johnson of Birmingham, Alabama.