ENLARGE Derrick Mason (left) and boyfriend Richard Goodman
(Editor’s note: This article was corrected to properly identify the broadcaster.)
COCHRAN, Ga. – The blowback has begun on Derrick Martin, the gay teenager who is being allowed to bring his boyfriend to the prom.
Some district students and residents rallied late this week against Derrick, and the local ABC (Channel 16) filed a news report on the protest that appeared slanted.
The ABC broadcast started this way:
“Most teens’ prom concerns range from what to wear and arranging a limo, but for a Cochran high school student, his date caused the most controversy. A gay high school student in Bleckley County is defying the community’s wishes, and bringing his boyfriend to the prom.”
And a little later:
“Derrick Martin’s peers stood up Thursday against the senior’s sexuality and his plans to bring a same-sex partner as his date.”
While the broadcast did allow Derrick to speak on camera, it focused more on “concerned citizens.”
“You sit here and you tell me that if somebody walked up to you and you’ve already paid all your money to go a prom that you’ve waited 11 years to go to and it’s a sacred event and somebody walks in and says ‘Oh I’m gay, I’m going to do a walk through with another guy,” one concerned citizen named Cochran complained on camera.
As ABC continued its report, Derrick, who is an honors student, was labeled a “controversial student.”
“There’s always going to be people that don’t like you and that don’t want to be around you, and you just have to just accept it,” Derrick said.
Bobby Duskin, who was labeled a “worried father,” was one of the organizers of the rally against Derrick.
“I’m going to speak out. Because I’m a father, and I’m proud to be a father and I’m going to look out for my kids no matter what and I’m going to stand up for them no matter what,” Duskin said.
ABC then trotted out Duskin’s daughter, Amber, a senior who refuses to go to the prom because Derrick will be there with his boyfriend.
“It’s not just his prom, it’s my prom too and everybody else’s at the school,” Amber said.
Some students are now going to organize a private prom, ABC reported. That’s code for a “gay free” dance.
Meanwhile, the school board issued the following statement about Derrick’s request:
“A male student at Bleckley County High School requested permission to bring a male friend to the high school prom.
“After school and system officials reviewed prom rules and procedures and legal precedent, the school informed the individual that there were no rules or policies that would prevent him from bringing his friend to the prom.
“This statement is not an endorsement of any particular practice or lifestyle, but rather recognition of the legal environment in which public schools operate today. In the interest of fairness to all students who have looked forward to their prom, school officials did not entertain the option of canceling the prom.
“Our school system is struggling with much larger concerns such as budget shortfalls and striving to sustain our reputation for excellence in education. We have serious matters that require our time and resources and we simply can not afford to divert any of them away from our educational mission.”