Even though you still hear about schools barring same-sex couples from dances, did you know that doing so is likely to be against the law?
- As long ago as 1980, a federal court upheld high-school senior Aaron Fricke’s right to bring his male date to the prom.
- The court also ruled that how other students might react to Aaron and his date did not justify banning them.
Supreme Court and federal court cases since then affirm that policies or actions that block same-sex couples from proms and dances—and policies created to make such discrimination possible—violates students’ rights to free expression and association, which are guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
A federal court upheld this fundamental right to equal treatment in 2008. The court ordered Scottsboro High School in Alabama to let two female students attend the prom together and defeated the school board’s efforts to block them.
If you’re planning to attend a prom or dance with a same-sex date, you have a right to have fun, and the school must ensure your safety as it does of all students. If you want more information on how to prepare or respond to any challenges you might encounter, click here.
At dances and beyond, limits on public displays of affection in schools must apply to everyone, not just LGBTQ students. Expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity generally fall under First Amendment protections.
If you’re an educator and want more information about how to make sure all students enjoy proms and dances, click here.
If you need more information, contact Lambda Legal at www.lambdalegal.org/help.