SIKESTON, Mo. (KSDK) - A southern Missouri law firm threatened legal action this week against a school district if it did not end its policy preventing a male high school student from attending prom with his boyfriend.
The Southern Poverty Law Center threatened to sue Scott County Central High School and the school district because Stacy Dawson, a junior at the school, was told he was not allowed to bring his boyfriend to the school dance on April 20.
The school district's policy stated same-sex couples are not allowed to attend school dances together. It stated, "High school students will be permitted to invite one guest, girls invite boys, and boys invite girls."
Dawson asked for approval to bring his boyfriend, but was told by an administrator the school board would not change the policy.
"Prom is an important milestone in high school, and I would be devastated if I'm not allowed to attend prom with my boyfriend," Dawson said. "It isn't fair that a school can randomly disregard students' rights because it doesn't agree with who you want to take to prom."
The law firm originally said the district had until February 25 to change the policy or it would seek legal action on Dawson's behalf.
"Denying Stacy's right to bring his boyfriend to prom is blatantly discriminatory and in violation of his constitutional rights," said Alesdair Ittelson, staff attorney for the SPLC. "This unlawful policy reminds us that anti-gay sentiment still serves as a platform for schools to deny the rights of same-sex couples. We call upon the school district to end this unconstitutional policy and recognize Stacy's rights without further delay."
A letter from SPLC to the school district cites several court cases in which the court sided with students in similar positions.
On Thursday NewsChannel 5 reached out to Superintendent Alvin McFerren, who said this is a student matter that falls under federal and state confidentiality laws and he cannot make a public comment at this time.
On Friday McFerren called back to say the policy was added to the school handbook 10-15 years ago because students were buying tickets to school dances together to get a lower price. Dance tickets are more expensive if bought individually than if purchased in a pair.
McFerren says he spoke to the school board and they plan to change the policy in the near future, and Dawson will be allowed to bring his boyfriend to the school dance.
The next school board meeting is March 11 and they plan to discuss the policy at that time.