Monday, May 03, 2010


Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss., sued her school district after it canceled her senior prom. The cancelation was due to McMillen, who has come out as a lesbian and wanted to take her girlfriend to the prom and to wear a tuxedo.

Of the readers who responded to an unscientific poll on my column's blog, 59 percent believed that the question of whom to bring to a high-school prom and what to wear should be left entirely to the students, while 41 percent believed that a school board should be permitted to establish guidelines as to appropriate dates and dress for a school-sanctioned event.

One reader feels that, if this is a public school, it needs to update its policy. A private school can set whatever policy it wants, however, because "the parents are paying to have their children go to a school that offers things more in line with their thinking, whether we like that or not."

"Given that this is 2010," another reader writes, "and women can wear pants any other day of the year, why shouldn't a girl be allowed to wear a tux to her prom if she wants to?"

Still another writes, "If the young woman's parents are aware of her choice and are OK with it, it is no one else's business."

Check out other opinions here, or post your own by clicking on "Comments" or "Post a comment" below.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 630 Eighth Ave., 5th floor, New York, N.Y. 10018.
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