For seniors, the prom is an epilogue to their high school years. The pictures, the socializing, the parties, and the dancing often add up to a night that is extraordinarily memorable. Yet, sometimes, prom can be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Anyone who ever watched the 1990’s series Beverly Hill 90210 likely remembers when Donna Martin got drunk at prom and, as a result, was prohibited from graduation festivities. Thankfully, the administration relented when the whole school got together in protest, yelling “Donna Martin Graduates” on the steps of City Hall.
While actual events that have taken place at prom aren’t always that dramatic (or corny), they are controversial. The following discusses some of the more recent controversies prom has produced:
Prom Cancelled Due to Same Sex Couple
Per CNN, a 2010 prom was cancelled at a Mississippi high school in order to avoid a lesbian bringing her girlfriend as her date. A lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union alleging that refusal to allow a girl to bring her girlfriend to prom violated the student’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression.
The lawsuit was eventually settled, and the school agreed to pay monetary damages as well as establish GLBT education classes for future students.
Busty Girl Busted
According to Seattle’s Fox affiliate, a Washington high school found themselves at the center of controversy when a busty 17 year old girl was told to cover up her cleavage or leave the prom and go home. While the school stated that they were within their rights to enforce a dress code, others believed that this code wasn’t enforced uniformly: rather, this was a case of breast-ism. Attesting to the latter was the fact that several students posted pictures on Facebook dressed in outfits that were in direct violation to the school dress code. Yet, these students were allowed to remain at prom.
Segregated Prom Finally Unsegregated
Though the Civil Rights Act outlawing racial discrimination in schools and public areas took place almost 50 years ago, according to US News, racially segregated proms were still being held in Georgia’s rural Wilcox County. Because these proms (one called the “white prom” and one called the “black prom”) were organized and funded privately, the school was not in direct violation of federal law: rather than illegal, it was just archaic and offensive.
In 2013, students decided that they had had enough of the separate prom idea. They united to throw one prom that accepted students of all ethnicities. This move received laudation from the school district.
Dirty Dancing Disallowed
Most people can’t dance as well as Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey did in that classic movie, but this fact doesn’t stop them from trying. While dirty dancing seems to be a part of the youthful dance culture, per Denver’s ABC news affiliate, two parents chaperoning a prom in Manitou Springs weren’t fans. These parents are accused of spraying Lysol disinfectant on teens who were dancing in what the parents thought was a risqué manner and calling the girls “whores” and “sluts.” Police were notified when a student filed a report and subsequently began an investigation.
While the above instances aren’t as drastic as what happened in Steven King’s Carrie, for instance, they are reflective of many of the issues facing Americans today. They are also examples of how proms can be made political when they are really just supposed to be fun.
Drake Pritchard is a freelance writer and blogger who typically focuses on prom dresses, bridal gowns, prom incidents, prom safety, clothing and other areas; those looking to get extra prepared for prom next year should check out the clothing selection from Terry Costa.