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Language in GHS prom rules creates confusion

Published 2:01pm Friday, February 21, 2014

Facebook exploded earlier this week among Greenville residents following the issuing of the 2014 Greenville High School junior/senior prom rules and regulations, and it all began with two words.

Among the items included within the document are guidelines pertaining to dress code for male and female attendees, music, security and more, but the offending excerpt pertains to the section on prom dates:  Prom dates are defined as “traditional couples” and will follow the traditional guidelines of previous proms.

Soon afterward, one Greenville High School student took to Facebook in a post that challenged the potentially discriminatory language used in the document, which garnered more than 100 comments from concerned parents and students, as well as the attention of Butler County Schools Interim Superintendent Amy Bryan.

In the absence of Joseph Dean, principal of Greenville High School, Bryan reissued a new set of rules to students with the offending sentence removed.

However, Bryan said that the usage of “traditional couples” was misinterpreted completely.

“Dr. Dean says the language was intended to mean teen couples rather than a parent for a date, a child for a date, or a cousin,” Bryan said. “The intent was never to ban same-sex couples nor have they ever been banned.  The word choice, which he says has been that way for years, is simply outdated language that definitely sounded discriminatory but wasn’t intended that way.”

Bryan, who learned of the usage of the phrase from phone calls Tuesday night, said that Dean would have done the same thing by removing the statement immediately.

Dean added that, despite the backlash from the Facebook post and ensuing attention, Greenville High School has not had any issues concerning sexual orientation in recent memory.

“The term ‘traditional couple’ has taken on several meanings over the last few days,” Dean said. “Some have taken it to mean no gay or biracial couples will be permitted at Greenville High School’s prom.  During the previous three years, we have not had a complaint by a student or parent about someone’s rights being violated as it relations to sexual orientation.

“The term ‘traditional couples’ was used to prevent students from bringing a parent, cousin or child to the prom as a date.  We have never denied a student admittance to prom because of the gender of his or her date.  The only stipulation was all females must wear a formal gown and all males must wear a tuxedo.”

Bryan added that the incident with Greenville High School wouldn’t influence decisions made at Georgiana or McKenzie.

“I won’t try to micromanage schools,” Bryan said.“We have professionals that know the policies.  Again, it was a misinterpreted statement.”

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