High school senior sent home for wanting to take same-sex date to homecoming

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(cbhs.org)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) – Christian Brothers High School senior Lance Sanderson was sent home earlier this week from school, allegedly for wanting to bring a male date to homecoming.

Sanderson says he just wants to be treated like all his classmates, but he is: the CBHS policy against males from other schools attending school events was implemented to prevent fights. Because CBHS administration is enforcing its policy, Sanderson claims it is behaving with discrimination.

Sanderson has been openly gay since his freshman year. He says an administrator who is now no longer at the school gave him verbal permission last year to bring a male date to homecoming and prom.

Despite comments of support of Sanderson and outrage at the high school flooding social media, it is difficult to perceive Sanderson as targeted by a previously held policy that is continuing to be enforced.

SANDERSON'S PETITION

In late Sept., Sanderson began a petition at Change.org, calling out CBHS for discrimination against him. He said, "School officials who should be looking out for students like me, not targeting us with discrimination."

Sanderson said CBHS was discriminating against him because he wanted to bring a male date to homecoming—but the factor that prevents him from attending with his choice for date is not the date's gender but that he attends a different school.

The school's daily bulletin from Sept. 24 addresses attendance rules. "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. Students who choose to attend CBHS are required to comply with our standards and policies."

Students are allowed to attend dances by themselves, with other CBHS students, or with a girl from another school—but not a boy from another school.

CHRISTIAN BROTHERS' RESPONSE

Responding to Sanderson's accusations in a letter, CBHS explains that it has deliberately set and achieved its goals of outreach to gay students by appointing a gay alumnus and faculty and staff with gay family members to educate others about inclusiveness.

Regarding the Homecoming Dance, the letter said a committee "had the task of creating a dance policy where ALL CBHS students could be included. It had to follow current school policies, Catholic teachings, and Lasallian principles (of which inclusivity is one). This was not an easy task. The Homecoming Dance was changed to a format similar to our courtyard dances. No longer is it a date dance. The school has never let boys from other schools attend these dances as the mixing of boys from other schools in such an open atmosphere can cause problems."

The letter also reminds students that social media is not an appropriate medium for discussion of important topics, while affirming its ongoing commitment to the foundational principles of the school.

CBHS and its alumni association have not responded to requests for comment by local news, which has interviewed Sanderson about his temporary dismissal from school.

Sanderson wrote the school a letter asking to be welcomed back. Meanwhile, he has been completing his schoolwork online.