Before Constance McMillen there was Juin Baize

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Before Constance McMillen there was Juin Baize

In keeping with Mississippi's long history of hate crimes, bigotry, segregation, asshattery, and general backwardness, the students at Itawamba Agricultural High School have created a Facebook fan page called "Constance Quit Yer Cryin". The page, created by the same ugly children that tricked McMillen into going to a fake prom, had about 500 toothless, illiterate fans at the time of this post.

Oh but there's more. According to an article in The Stranger, a 16-year-old transgirl named Juin Baize enrolled at Itawamba Agricultural in Fulton, Mississippi back in January. According to the ACLU, After four hours she was suspended and forbidden to return to school.

Kristy Bennett, legal director of the ACLU, said, “Juin’s case was a situation where a transgender student wanted to attend school dressed in feminine clothing and the school district would not even let him attend school."

Why do the administrators at this school still have jobs? Please 'splain.

For context, keep in mind, Mississippi is the same state where 14-year-old Emmett Till was lynched and Civil Rights activist Medgar Evers was assassinated.

Oh and, 45 years ago, in Alabama, the same type of bigoted prom stunt was pulled on Carolyn King.



Comments [59]

soonerterp's picture

OMG Where to Start (this is my first post here)

First of all, thanks a lot Mississippi for taking the national recognition of bigots, idiots and knuckledraggers away from Oklahoma for a change (we have to put up with Sally Kern in the state house and Inhofe and Coburn in Washington -- trust me I didn't help send either of those buffoons to DC, and I can't vote for or against Kern since I don't live in her district. The woman is a nutcase all the same).

Secondly, absolutely vile move to have a "fake prom" for those students (like Constance McMillen and the disabled students). At least metaphorically I keep thinking of a certain Stephen King novel. It was a way for powers with say in that area to further marginalise and practise discrimination all the same against people who don't conform, and its every bit as humiliating even without two drums of pig blood being dumped on you.

Third, I need to address this to rawr im a dinosaur: Go You!

Too many times those of us who live in Red states (like me in OK), or live in states that are in a particular region (i.e. the South) are painted with an incredibly broad brush that smears stereotype over ALL who live there. It's completely uncalled for, especially since I've met hicks and knuckledraggers from New Jersey and Chicago in my lifetime. The stereotype of the racist, patriarchal Southerner likely won't go away in my lifetime, and it doesn't help that the stereotype keeps getting perpetuated in certain press (see: Tea Party protestors). Peeps, it isn't an issue of where someone lives, it's an issue of their upbringing or their mental illness, not their geographic locale.

Off my soapbox now.

 

If Fe is the symbol for Iron, does that make women Iron Males?

minniesota's picture

Welcome Soonterp

Welcome Soonerterp! There are bigots in the Midwestern States too and we have a very vile  honophobe here in Minnesota called Representative Michele Bachmann. I feel for you having to deal with Sally Kern.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Grace Moon's picture

yes

Ditto the above.

Thanks for shouting out from a Red State.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

SMBrown's picture

Dittoing your ditto. Maybe we

Dittoing your ditto.

Maybe we could use a regular Red State blog?

soonerterp's picture

Thx everyone for the welcome :)

Sometimes its very hard to live here and I've been here off/on most of my life. Oklahoma has its advantages (inexpensive, most of the people are very nice, except the fucktards) and disadvantages (schizophrenic weather, fucktards).

Minniesota: Oh, yes we all know about Michele Bachmann. She's an insult to crazy people. Ever look at her eyes? OMG what is going on back there?

 

 

 

 

 

If Fe is the symbol for Iron, does that make women Iron Males?

Rusty's picture

Go for it

Everyone who thinks it's unfair to call bigots "bigots" and urge more temperate language when dealing with them — go for it. Write a letter to the editor of the student paper at Constance's school. And post it here.

[edited to add: I will continue to call fucktards "fucktards" without regard to race, religion, gender, ethnic background, physical disability, veteran status, regionality, and/or sexual orientation.]

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

rawr.im.a.dinosaur's picture

On the topic of prejudice

I recognize that the South has a history of prejudice, but by calling these people "toothless", "inbred", and "illiterate", you're playing on a long history of stereotypes yourself. These people aren't assholes because they're from the South, they're assholes because they're homophobic and transphobic. As long as we keep conflating Southern culture with homophobia and attacking the two together, we're going to inspire a reactionary embrace of homophobia. Being from the South is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it an excuse to be a bigot, and although your comments are directed specifically at individuals who are in the wrong, you're utilizing narratives of Southerners being stupid and prejudiced in order to make your point. In doing so, you're perpetuating a form of bigotry that's rampant in the North and on the coasts already. It's offensive to the Southerners who are themselves queer or allies, it allows homophobes to justify their homophobia as an innate trait of their Southernness because you condemn homophobia and implicity criticize the South in one fell swoop, and it forces those who haven't yet taken a stance to defend their Southern identity by embracing homophobia, as everybody seems to be in agreement that it is an accepted characteristic of Southern people. Stop conflating Southernness with stupidity, bigotry, and "backwardness". This discourse perpetuates the very thing it criticizes; it's damaging to queer people and Southen people alike, and I wish it would stop.

Olivia Mistelle Maxell's picture

Exactly

Not saying to tolerate bigotry and prejudice, I just believe it should be fought with a certain level of intelligence and integrity--not battled with the same intolerant behavior it represents. I've been guilty of the same thing in the past and I've realized it gets us no where. 

I'm from the south and know the generalized opinion surrounding the mentality and I'm here to say: not all are bigots but many are good-hearted people that are tolerant of others. 

Not2Taem's picture

Hello dino,

You gave me a new word: conflating. This bodes well as I am a bit of a wordaholic. Welcome to the Gayborhood!  Glasses

***edited to add: Thesaurus?***

SMBrown's picture

This discourse perpetuates

This discourse perpetuates the very thing it criticizes

Amen sister!

And nicely done--I was thinking along the same lines about tarring with one brush, but you said it much more thoughtfully than I could have hoped to. 

Didn't someone famously say we have 'gay friends in red states'?

p.s. welcome to the Park!

Rusty's picture

As long as we're quoting

The same guy said, "Don't Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight."

It would have been nice if some of the red state gay friends supported her at her school. None did. Instead the students and their parents made an ugly situation even worse. 

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

SMBrown's picture

Right, so everyone in that

Right, so everyone in that school, town, state sucks...

Rusty's picture

Qui tacet consentit — silence

Qui tacet consentit — silence implies consent

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Diana Cage's picture

If they don't suck, why

If they don't suck, why aren't they speaking out?

When the cops raided the gay bar here in Atlanta, I went and made a stink about it at City Hall, I stood in front of the board of supervisors and explained exactly why I thought it was wrong. So where are these awesome non-bigoted righteous folks in Fulton speaking up for Constance?

Not2Taem's picture

Diana, its great that you did

Diana, its great that you did that. It is what we should all do. Maybe such folk don't exist in Fulton. Maybe there are those who would like to, but are not yet confident or brave enough to face the reaction of their families, friends, or those in power.

There was a time when I looked down in righteous indignation on those who did not stand up for what they knew was right. It still bugs the hell out of me, but knowing all of the social steps forward and back that I have taken in my own life, I try to be a little less absolute about it. This is not meant to sound at all condescending, as I am sure I will continue to move in that 2 step pattern right up to my end. I trust you to take it in the spirit in which it is meant.

SMBrown's picture

Did anyone report that you

Did anyone report that you went to City Hall?  We don't know everything that's happening there--we don't know the conversations taking place across dinner tables right now...

Diana Cage's picture

It was in the Southern Voice

It was in the Southern Voice and the Washington Blade and it was on the local TV news

rawr.im.a.dinosaur's picture

I respectfully disagree

Thanks for welcoming me, guys!

The issue is as follows: perhaps every person in that town is a homophobe, although I doubt it. Perhaps every person in that town acted homophobically through their complicity: I would argue that that's true. Maybe, as you suggest, everybody in your town, or in the state, is a homophobe. Fine. Does that justify resorting to bigotry in order to condemn them?

The terms used are not neutral forms of expressing negativity, and the post pretty clearly indicated that the criticisms leveled were against a specifically and stereotypically Southern type of bigotry. By employing these stereotypes, you level an attack against all Southerners.

Rusty, nobody's suggesting that we use milder language or stop criticizing them. I think "fucktards" is a good way to go. But invoking demeaning stereotypes to condemn somebody is analogous in my view to using racial slurs in the same instance. If the town were comprised of African Americans, nobody would think it was acceptable to blame their ignorance on their race (although maybe I'm overestimating us), and invoke racial stereotypes and slurs in order to criticize their actions. If the South were another country, we would not resort to disparaging the country and all of its citizens in the attempt to secure rights of a minority of their people. These events would be blamed on the fact that the people involved are morons, and that there is a specific culture of homophobia existing in that environment.

Why can't we condemn them as homophobes? They should be metaphorically tarred and feathered, and this issue should not go away. My problem is that the mockery is leveled against them because they are from the South, as if the homophobia is the symptom. In that case, if the homophobia is due to a culture of "inbreeding" and "backwardness", then how do we hold them accountable? Yes, there are areas in the South where homophobia is rampant, but are you really suggesting that everybody who ever lived in the South deserves to deal with verbal abuse because of patterns of homophobia among them?

It bewilders me that we ignore the fact that Constance McMillan and Juin Baize are themselves from the South, and that they have to deal with the mockery as much as their peers; in addition to being queer, they will be set back by the negative assumptions and overt mockery leveled against them because of where they were raised.

Moreover, how on Earth does antagonizing an entire region help our cause? If we portray tolerance as a Northern trait and bigotry as Southern, then what makes us expect that anybody in the South will want to compromise the Southern aspect of their identity for our sake?

Even if everybody in the South were inherently homophobic, the discourse that you perpetuate about being Southern *creates* that environment in which nobody is willing to help you. There's a reason queer people from all over the county make pilgrimages to the coasts and people from the South (with Stephen Colbert as a famous example) feel the need to Northernize their accents in order to feel smart. If anything, the rhetoric you spread about the South drives the sane people out. Worse than that, it makes Southern people cling to homophobia as a method of defending their Southern identity in the face of this criticism.

Yes, these people did something disgustingly wrong, and should be criticized to the fullest extent, but their wrongdoings do not excuse the bigoted method of response I am witnessing.

EDIT: And yes, Rusty, people do use that excuse: they bolster their homophobic arguments with statements that homophobia is integral to their cultural tradition (which they will invariably value over the complaints of an oppressed minority), and we are giving them that excuse by agreeing with them that it is.

Rusty's picture

I'm unpersuaded

I'm unpersuaded. That is the issue as you see it. The issue as I see it is that a member of my community was treated shamefully and instead of discussing that we're discussing whether calling the people who did it "knuckdragggin inbreds" slanders a region.

However, in the interest of moving the dialogue back to where it should be I will refrain from referring to homophobic bigots in the former Confederate states in any way that distinguishes them from the rest of the homophobic bigots in the US.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Robin Rigby's picture

I have to echo Mystics here

I have to echo Mystics here and say I really appreciate the thoughtful, intelligent way you frame your point of view.  Additionally, I agree with you that painting everyone southerner with the same brush is not showing them the respect that we are asking them to give us.  I'm not from the south but have known plenty of people who are and know that while there is a culture of bigotry and homophobia in that region of our country it doesn't mean that everyone there is a bigot of homophobe.  And like anyone else, they can unlearn what they were brought up to believe.  

I'm also sure (like Tae) that there were plenty of people who did back Constance, her entire family for example, but who did not speak out.  Certainly I would like to see more people speak up against bigotry but one of my neighbors had a Yes on 8 sign in their window and I didn't go over there and say something.  I had just moved in and wasn't really feeling like alienating people right off the bat but I'm sure there's plenty of people who would call me gutless.  I spoke out in other ways.  We all have our comfort levels.  

Anyhow, welcome.  Looking forward to more intelligent, thoughtful comments. :-) 

rawr.im.a.dinosaur's picture

Thank you!

Thank you! Smile (And everyone else!) It's nice to know it's not falling on deaf ears.

che's picture

thank you for calling that

thank you for calling that one out!  i grew up in the south and, while, yes, the culture there is generally less accepting and more homophobic, i know lots of great southerners who accept me and my girlfriend into their homes with open arms.  in fact, my family - minus my immediate family - has been as welcoming as my partner's new england family, and the same with my friends.  of course, my southern friends were the liberal ones since i chose to be friends with them, but, all the same, they ARE non-inbred, non-homophobic, non-conservative, non-etc. southerners Smile  

 

Diana Cage's picture

Sister, I grew up in

Sister, I grew up in Charleston, SC and currently live in Atlanta, GA. I'm well aquainted with the South.

SMBrown's picture

Clarification

I'd like to clarify that my positive response to rawr's comment was somewhat generalized in the sense that I didn't read it solely as a critique of the blog or the comments herein but rather as general reminder that all of us, myself at the tippy-top of the list, are at one time or another probably guilty of combatting bigotry with our own brand of it.  So this New Englander appreciated it from the standpoint of getting my own butt kicked--not because I'm a masochist but because I like to be kept on my toes.

Plus, I tend to get a bit excited when I read a new, and very articulate, voice that offers a fresh perspective.

Rusty's picture

beg to differ

Hi, just to be clear I also used the phrase "inbred, knuckle-dragging, fucktards" when referring to the Mormons in my area of California who showed up on local street corners to wave their signs and spew hate during the fight against Prop 8.

And also, if a classmate or teacher or administrator had stood up for her I might have a different opinion of her little town in Mississippi — but none did. So maybe "coward" is a more appropriate term.

And finally, "I can't help the fact that I'm a bigot; I'm from the South" isn't a justification I've heard yet.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Diana Cage's picture

These high school kids are

These high school kids are posting rants all over the internet. I'm guessing they don't understand that google is forever. Then again, if they never leave Fulton, MS it doesn't really matter.

A student from Itawamba High School named Jay Nichols posted this:

Best Answer – Chosen by Asker
listen, im a junior at itawamba. constance is STUPID for blowing this up and ruining the prom for the rest of my school. some of us kids met with about 50 parents last night and they have gladly decided to throw us a prom at the tupelo furniture market on april 2. you would just have to live here to know what its like. theres only about 3500 people that live in our city limits so EVERYONE knows everyone. they dont have to throw us a prom, they volunteered to and we appreciate them so much for it.. AND to top it off, it is going to be INVITATION ONLY. so constance and her gay-activist friends will not be attending. they can go have their own prom because we certainly do not want any of them there.. i wish some of you could be here though. we have WTVA newsmen at front doors of the school every freaking morning. they flag us down to interview us as we’re coming and leaving school. im SICK AND TIRED OF IT. we are very traditional here so personally i think if constance doesnt like it here she needs to pack her stuff and MOVE. no one even liked her here that much in the first place..
Source(Drunk:
i LIVE and go to school at fulton.

Olivia Mistelle Maxell's picture

Fake Prom

That fake prom thing was awful. Constance was sent a fake prom invitation which was held at a local country club while the rest of the student body had theirs at a secret location. She and 5 other students (with learning disabilities) got the invite to the country club prom. 

Constance take on the night:

"They had the time of their lives," McMillen said. "That's the one good thing that come out of this, [these kids] didn't have to worry about people making fun of them [at their prom]."

It wasn't right (in any way) they were singled out but the situation was reversed into a positive experience for a few which took the power away from the ones attempting to be cruel.

 

Robin Rigby's picture

Constance doesn't think about

Constance doesn't think about herself or complain about her mistreatment, she's just grateful that the other kids at the fake prom had a good time. What an amazing young woman! We could all learn a thing or two from her.

Keeli M's picture

...

wow

blow up my ego @lvrandafighter

Grace Moon's picture

wow

I'm pretty inspired by the comments on that Fb page. seems Constance has enough supporters to shame those ignoramuses...

 

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Steph's picture

Off topic "technical issue"

Yo Grace

I've paid my monthly subscription fee but my account setting has not upgraded to "premium".... perhaps the money is stuck somewhere over the pond......???

Grace Moon's picture

sorry just seeing your first comment

okay thanks for letting me know.

so far mystics was the only one reporting. if anyone else is having this prob let me know.

**edit to add**

okay so I just corresponded with Gwen (who moved on to working on another project so she's not able to get to all our little bugs immediatly at the moment). She's going to look into this in the next couple of days.

So let me know if you are still able to use the features though your status says upgrade.

thanks!

tweet tweet @gracemoon

SMBrown's picture

Steph, the same thing

Steph, the same thing happened to me--so it might not be an across-the-pond thing.  Try to PM someone and if it works you actually HAVE been upgraded, but for some reason the system doesn't acknowledge it. 

Grace knows about this bug in my case, but looks like I might not be the only one!

Steph's picture

Thanks Mystic. Can't PM so am

Thanks Mystic.

Can't PM so am currently on the naughty step, so to speak!!!

 

Not2Taem's picture

In the dog house?

Would that be analogous to our in the doghouse or in timeout?

Conlite's picture

"in timeout" or more like "on

"in timeout" or more like "on the naughty mat" - if your school has such a thing.  Usually a place outside the principles office that elementary students wait (and consider their sins) before going in to discuss their wrongdoing and punishment with that august figure.  Our school's was located in the main hallway, so you were also on display for all other good students to point at/make fun of.

Not2Taem's picture

Got it

When I was a child there was a bench outside of the principal's office. These days it is typically inside the office, so the children can be closely monitored to avoid further trouble or parent complaint. Though often the teacher sends the discipline note to the office, and the principal or vice calls down to the classroom for the child when they are ready for the interview.

Grace Moon's picture

hey steph are you having problems too?

are you premium but its not showing up on your control panel?

tweet tweet @gracemoon

SMBrown's picture

'On the naughty step'?? 

'On the naughty step'?? 

Conlite's picture

See above.

See above.

Not2Taem's picture

Pronouns, people!

“Juin’s case was a situation where a transgender student wanted to attend school dressed in feminine clothing and the school district would not even let him attend school."

Why is someone from the ACLU having difficulty with pronouns? She is a transgirl. Oy!

MacLass_19's picture

According to 'The Stranger', it's Juin's choice...

Originally, I thought the same thing until I read this:

"Baize, his mother, and his two sisters moved to Fulton, Mississippi, from New Harmony, Indiana, to live with Baize's grandmother at the beginning of the year. (For now Baize says he prefers to use male pronouns.) Baize, age sixteen, enrolled at Itwamba Agricultural High School, where Constance McMillen was also a student. McMilllen clearly recalled Baize's first—and only—day at Itawamba Agricultural."

 

che's picture

Whew!  I was wondering about

Whew!  I was wondering about that.

Not2Taem's picture

Thank you,

That's a relief.

SMBrown's picture

Good 'get.'  

Good 'get.'  

Robin Rigby's picture

It's Mississippi

And we're surprised because...?  Not being a smartass here.  Okay, maybe a little.  But truth is it's not really news that it's a backwater area of our country.  

Not2Taem's picture

Mississippi is not alone

Texas public schools are very careful to keep rules regarding "gender appropriate dress" on their books so that they can do exactly the same thing. How they are applied depends on the district.

Julia Watson's picture

It's not so much that I'm

It's not so much that I'm amazed those attitudes exist. It's that I'm amazed these people think that with so much media/legal attention focused on them, they can continue to get away with this kind of behavior scott-free.

Robin Rigby's picture

What exactly do you think is

What exactly do you think is going to happen to them? There'll be outrage (here and other places) but then people will move on. I would call that scot free. I'm no legal expert but I don't think tricking people into going to a fake prom is illegal and clearly the school isn't going to punish them.

Rusty's picture

The school and school board

The school and school board are the ones that will be punished. The judge already said Constance can sue for damages and those pictures will be used to help hang them.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna