Mississippi A.C.L.U. Rejects $20,000 for Alternate Prom
By STEPHANIE STROM - THE NEW YORK TIMES
Added: Wed, 31 Mar 2010 23:00:00 UTC
To avoid further controversy, the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi has rejected a $20,000 gift intended to underwrite an alternate prom replacing one canceled by a local school district after a lesbian student demanded that she be allowed to attend with her girlfriend.
The gift, to sponsor one of several privately sponsored alternate events, came from the American Humanist Association, an advocacy group whose mission is to promote âgood without God.â
âAlthough we support and understand organizations like yours, the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word âatheist,â â Jennifer Carr, the fund-raiser for the A.C.L.U of Mississippi, wrote in an e-mail message to Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the humanist group.
According to Matthew Sheffield, a spokesman for the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, the organization arranging the event, the A.C.L.U. of Mississippi did not have authority to decline the gift.
âWe asked someone at the A.C.L.U. to assist us in handling all the donations, and that person told them we were not interested and that is not true,â he said.
Mr. Sheffield said that after getting answers to a few questions, their board would decide whether to accept the gift.
The alternate prom is scheduled for May 8.
Regarding the A.C.L.U. move, Ms. Carr wrote to Mr. Speckhardt: âOur staff has been talking a lot about your donation offer and have found ourselves in a bit of a conflict. We have fears that your organization sponsoring the prom could stir up even more controversy.â
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