The British Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has congratulated the American Humanist Association on its gesture of solidarity in offering to fund a gay-friendly prom for students in the State of Mississippi. This follows the decision of Itawamba County Agricultural High School, Mississippi to cancel its annual school prom rather than allow a lesbian student to bring her girlfriend.

The school prom is a rite of passage for most American school students, and it is traditional to bring girlfriends or boyfriends. Denying this right to gay and lesbian students will only reinforce their isolation and their status as second class citizens. American humanists have been to the fore in the fight for equality of race, gender and sexual orientation in that country over the past few decades.

The state of Mississippi saw one of the longest and most bitter fights for racial equality, so it is perhaps not surprising to see organised resistance to even the most basic notions of gay equality today.

GALHA Chair Adam Knowles commented:

“We salute the action of our fellow humanists in America in standing up for the rights of gay and lesbian students. The school’s action is spiteful, and reprehensible. They would rather see all their pupils suffer than give the gay minority a chance to share in their happiness. It also stands as a chilling reminder that even when the education system is nominally secular the dead hand of bigotry can still reach out and blight the lives of young people at a critical stage in their lives.

“Humanism bases its morality on human experience, human intelligence and human feelings for our fellow men and women. It sees gay people as having every bit as much potential as heterosexuals to lead happy, loving and useful lives. This is the message that should be spread in schools around the world.

“We will continue to work with other humanists, and with those religious believers who do support gay rights, in order to achieve this.”

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