Gay teen suing school that refused to let him bring date to prom

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

A gay teen is suing his former high school after its refusal to let him bring a date to homecoming.

Lance Sanderson has launched legal action against Christian Brothers High School (CBHS) in Memphis, Tennessee.

In his lawsuit, the 19-year-old argues that the all-boys private school violated anti-discrimination laws when he was denied permission to bring a boy to homecoming prom last year.

Despite straight students being allowed to bring girls from other schools, Mr Sanderson was told the school would not permit him to bring his same-sex date.

Mr Sanderson ultimately opted to skip the dance – but was still suspended for a week over his actions.

The suit cites “breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent training” and a violation of anti-discrimination protections.

Despite the school’s private status, Sanderson’s lawyers say it is in receipt of federal government funding.

Howard Manis, one of Mr Sanderson’s lawyers, told NBC: “We have confirmation that CBHS receives federal funding and also potentially state funding for certain programs at the school.

“That makes them responsible for following the letter of the law under Title IX.”

In a petition Mr Sanderson launched previously, he wrote: “I’ve been out since my freshman year of high school, and I’ve been a great student as well as a photographer for most of my school’s events.

“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.

“But when that school official left over the summer, I was met with harsh opposition by my school.

“One administrator told me that even though some people interpreted Pope Francis’s teachings on the issue as meaning they should support same-sex couples, these people are, ‘not the authority to which Christian Brothers High School is accountable’.

“And now my school is making daily announcements across the whole school, saying that students can’t bring same-sex dates from other schools…

“I just want to bring a date of my choice to homecoming like the rest of my friends and classmates. I’m not asking for special treatment. I’m just asking for respect, and the chance to make my last homecoming a truly memorable experience.”