Mississippi School District Found to Have a Homophobic History Longer Than Prom Scandal
Just three days after a federal judge ruled that Itawamba Agricultural high school in Fulton, Miss. violated Constance McMillen’s constitutional rights by not allowing her to attend prom in a tuxedo with a female date, new revelations have surfaced about the school district’s homophobic past. Turns out Juin Baize, a 16-year-old transgender student, was suspended earlier this year from Itawamba after attending for just four hours. The day he returned, he was suspended again. According to Kristy Bennett, legal director of the ACLU in Mississippi, Baize was given no rationale for the two punishments. "Juin’s case was a situation where a transgender student wanted to attend school dressed in feminine clothing," Bennett told Dan Savage over at The Stranger. "And the school district would not even let him attend school." The Itawamba County school district has been in hot water ever since it cited "distractions" as its motive for canceling its annual prom. Constance McMillen, dubbed by CNN a “local pariah, national heroine,” recently said she didn’t feel welcome returning after the school’s spring break. "I've been very nervous about all of this," she said. "I don't like being somewhere where everyone hates me." According to McMillen, Baize’s classmates were not given a chance to get to know their new classmate; the school’s removal was too swift. "People were talking about him all day, trying to get a look at him," she said. "It was insane, it was ridiculous, it made me so mad. They said he was causing a distraction with what he was wearing but it was a half day of school and people didn’t have time to get used to him." Baize has since relocated to Florida, and likely will not press charges against the school district. He wants it that way. “There’s this thing here called Florida Virtual School,” Juin said. “And I’m going to enroll in that online and do that until next year. And from what I’ve heard the high school near here is very accepting. So I’m going to start fresh."