This Kid Got Dismissed From School Over His Homecoming Date

Photo: Courtesy of Lance Sanderson.
A high school senior asking to bring another boy as his date to a school dance has since been dismissed from school for the week.

Lance Sanderson came out as gay in his freshman year at Christian Brothers High School, an all-boys Catholic institution in Memphis, TN. "When I first started to float the idea of bringing a same-sex date to homecoming, I was told that my school doesn't discriminate by a school official," he wrote in a petition.

Since then, however, the administration's tune has changed. Last week, CBHS put out a statement announcing that males from another school are not allowed to attend dances — "for logistical reasons," Sanderson says the school told him.

The statement, seen on Christian Brothers High School's website, clarifies that "CBHS is a private, Catholic high school that adheres to the Catholic and Lasallian traditions. We continue to follow a long-standing policy that places restrictions on proms and events including allowing boys from other schools or non-class members to attend."

Since then, Sanderson has started a petition to have the high school reverse its policy. Homecoming has since passed, but he hopes the school will allow him to bring his date to prom this spring. "I saw something that I felt like was discrimination, and I voiced my opinion on it," Sanderson told Refinery29. "And now they’re mad at me for speaking out against them."

His petition has since gotten plenty of media attention — as of press time, it had almost 24,000 signatures. Even though the reception online and from school alumni has been "really great," Sanderson says, the school's response has been less than stellar. This morning, Sanderson says he was pulled out of class and told to go home for the rest of the week. "They said they had 890 other students to take care of, and they couldn't deal with me," he told Refinery29.

Requests for comment from high school officials have yet to be answered; when Refinery29 called, a school representative directed us to the policy on its site. Whether or not Sanderson will be welcomed back to CBHS late next week (after fall break) has yet to be seen.

"It's been a tough four years for me at Christian Brothers High School, and I've experienced a lot of homophobia," Sanderson wrote on the petition. "One time in class, we were watching a movie, and a classmate kept referring to one of the main characters as a 'fag' at least 17 times in front me." He hopes that action from administration will help increase the inclusivity of the school and combat homophobia.

"I feel like there are a number of things the administration could do. They could be more public about how people should appropriately act in situations, maybe more vocal about the words that are inappropriate to use in a school setting," Sanderson says. "I hope that they start to listen and they try to work more on being inclusive, and I hope that this petition and my voice in the media helps accelerate the pace that other schools in the area and the country become more accepting."

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