LGBT Rights

Prom Season: Know Your Rights

05.13.13

Prom season is a time of excitement for many high school students – what to wear, who to go with, maybe a later curfew. But, for some students, who their date is makes it difficult to even get in the door.

Every year, some LGBT students report that they are excluded from prom for wanting to bring a same-sex date. The ACLU believes that all students should have the same rights to bring a date of their choice, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In 1980, a Rhode Island teenager successfully sued his school for the right to take his boyfriend to prom. A federal court ruled that taking a same-sex date to prom is a matter of free expression and free association under the First Amendment and told the school that it had to let him go to the prom with his boyfriend.

If you go to a public school and school officials try to tell you that you can’t bring a same-sex date to prom, tell them about the case of Aaron Fricke v. Richard B. Lynch, 91 F. Supp. 381 (D. R.I. 1980). The law also protects your right to Equal Protection, meaning that you can’t be treated differently than other students – Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996).

Finally, courts across the nation have uniformly held that schools are required to recognize gay student organizations equally with other organizations and must provide those organizations and their members with access to the same facilities and privileges as other students and organizations.

For more information or to request help:

Check out the ACLU of Ohio’s guide: Students! Know Your Rights

Check out the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project guide: Know Your Rights! A Quick Guide for LGBT High School Students

Learn how you can start an ACLU campus club or Gay-Straight Alliance

Visit the ACLU of Ohio’s legal help page to report problems