If these guys lived in Brecksville, could they attend the prom?
On a recent sunny afternoon, C-Notes headed out to the real life Pleasantville that is Brecksville to find out if the rumors were true: Was Brecksville High really banning gay students from its prom?
According to our spies – well planted at a certain North Royalton beauty salon – the suburban school district has a longstanding rule that decrees students can only attend prom if they have a date of the opposite sex. The reasoning went that the school couldn’t actually ban just gay students, so it had to make an all encompassing rule that would readily exclude dateless wall flowers and mathaletes too. That way, no one could be accused of being a homophobe…
It seemed like a rather cruel standard, excluding not just homosexuals, but single students as well. Did Ohioans really hate gay people (and socially awkward straight people) that much?
When we hit the pavement of the Brecksville High School parking lot – well stocked with zippy sedans and compact SUVs – several students confirmed the hearsay. “Yeah, our school is lame,” said Amalie Podgorski, a Brecksville senior. “It’s always been like that and I have no idea why.”
Podgorski’s friend, Shelby Rohbe had one idea. “Our school is just scared of anything different,” she said. “It has to be the perfect school – we can’t even wear sweat pants to class.”
Both girls said they were going to prom, but only after much hassle with finding dates. “We were rushing to find dates at the last minute, because we both broke up with our boyfriends,” Podgorski said.
On the other hand, senior Ross Erbacher claimed he wouldn’t be going to prom. “As far as I’m concerned, that [rule] is just totally not American.”
But as our reporter made the rounds, she was suddenly stopped by principal Brian Wilch and a police officer, who was called to the scene after a suspicious woman with a notebook was reportedly accosting students.
Wilch quickly denied that such a rule existed. “We can’t have that rule,” he said, claiming that it would be discriminatory. “We have plenty of folks here that date the same sex and we don’t bother them. Everyone gets along. We’ve never had a problem. We just don’t want people from other schools coming to our prom.”
When asked why students would believe that such a regulation existed, Wilch simply shrugged his bowling ball shoulders. “They should ask their friendly school administrator,” he said. Then the police officer followed the reporter off the school premises and all the way to the highway.
After returning to the confines of the city – where cops are busy solving murders, not escorting 90-pound journalists off of parking lots – we called up members of the school board. Things only got more confusing.
While board member Alan Siebert confirmed the rumored rule (“Yes, that’s the rule"), board President George Balasko vehemently denied it in an email. “As Principal Wilch told you, there is no policy about same sex prom dates,” Balasko wrote. “We sell tickets to our students in pairs or singles and there are no conditions based on gender or sexual orientation.”
He also claimed he had no idea why students would believe otherwise.
Still baffled, C-Notes decided to hunt down a true expert: a gay student.
We jumped on the horn with senior Julie Chimes, who is openly bisexual and is hoping to take a girl to the prom. “I’ve never heard of that rule,” she said.
Whether or not the rule is a suburban legend or not, it appears to be very real in the minds of many Brecksville students. But if Chimes gets to slow dance with her gal for the whopping $110 that it costs to attend, does it really matter? – Denise Grollmus