Student Fights Catholic School's Ban on Same-Sex Dates

Lance Sanderson

A student at a Catholic school in Memphis, Tenn., says administrators have reneged on allowing him to bring a same-sex date to the homecoming dance this weekend — and one gave him that message by alluding to a gay man murdered by his partner.

Lance Sanderson (pictured above), a senior at Christian Brothers High School, said that during the previous school year, he asked one administrator if bringing a boy from another school as his homecoming date would be OK, and the administrator said yes, the Memphis Flyer reports. But that official left Christian Brothers over the summer, so Sanderson brought it up with a different administrator.

“I mentioned it, expecting him to say the same thing,” the student told the Flyer. “And he had a very different response. He mentioned a [gay] couple in Texas and said I was a lot like this one person and said that the guy’s boyfriend murdered him. It was a little rough.”

School officials then set up a committee to make a policy on same-sex dates. The policy, they announced, is “CBHS students may attend the dance by themselves, with other CBHS students, or with a girl from another school. For logistical reasons, boys from other schools may not attend.” In a letter to students and parents, the administration elaborated, “The school has never let boys from other schools attend these dances as the mixing of boys from other schools in such an open atmosphere can cause problems.”

Sanderson finds the policy discriminatory. He told the Flyer he believes that under the policy, he’d be able to attend the dance with a boy from Christian Brothers, but administrators would “paint it as we’re just friends going together.” He has set up a petition calling on the school to change the policy and allow same-sex dates.

He says he’s experienced homophobia at Christian Brothers, noting on the petition, “But now it’s not classmates causing the issue — it's administrators. School officials who should be looking out for students like me, not targeting us with discrimination.” As of this afternoon, the petition had nearly 8,000 signatures.





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