ALEXANDRIA — Two or more students at Alexandria High School were punished with in-school detention after one of them asked a fellow student to be her date to the prom at the school’s talent show Tuesday.
School officials say the detention isn’t punishment for a same-sex prom invitation, but is instead part of a wider policy of not allowing students to make those proposals at school events.
“That should be a private thing, not a public thing,” said Principal Mack Holley.
According to students who saw the school’s talent show, a female student took the stage at the show to sing a song dedicated to another female student. After the song ended, the singer then invited the other student to the prom.
“She brought out a rainbow sign that had ‘prom’ and a question mark on it,” said Ashley Fadely, 17, a senior at the school. “The other girl came out and they just hugged.”
Fadely said the prom invitation sparked indignant comments from some parents in the audience who were opposed to same-sex relationships. After the show, some of those parents took to social media to express similar sentiments.
Holley said the in-school detention wasn’t inspired by those comments. Before the show, he said, the singer and at least one other student asked the teacher in charge of the show if they could do a “promposal.” The teacher told them no, he said. That violated the student code of conduct, he said.
“We’re dealing with an act of rebelliousness from students,” Holley said. He said that in the past he’d banned at least one other public proposal – a boy asking a girl to marry him – from a school event.
Calhoun County Schools Superintendent Joe Dyar said that defying a teacher is a minor to intermediate infraction in the school system’s code of conduct. He said he felt in-school detention was the proper punishment.
Neither Dyar nor Holley would say how many students were in detention, citing student privacy concerns, though both referred to them as “students” in the plural.
The detention sparked talk of a potential prom boycott. On Wednesday night, Fadely said she and other students would likely sit out the prom if the two girls weren’t allowed to go.
“If they aren’t allowed to go to the prom, I won’t either,” Fadely said.
But in an interview in his office Thursday morning, Holley said the school had yet to decide whether the two girls could attend the prom. He said the school often has to approve prom dates because students invited dates who’d already left school or were at other schools.
He said same-sex couples had attended earlier proms at the school. He said the school can’t ban those couples from attending the prom just because they’re same-sex.
“We can’t do that,” he said. “It’s probably against the law.”
Dyar, the superintendent, later said that if the girls weren’t approved to attend the prom yet, it was likely because no one has been approved. The prom is scheduled for March 10. Students can be banned from the prom for code-of-conduct infractions, Dyar said, but the infractions by the students at the talent show aren’t serious enough to impose a ban.
“If the prom were held today, they’d be eligible,” Dyar said.