Eighteen-year-old Lance Sanderson just wanted to bring his date to his last-ever high school homecoming dance like any other senior. Instead, he made national headlines last week after his all-boys Catholic school in Memphis, Tennessee forbid him from bringing a male date to the dance.
Sanderson started an online petition in response to his school's decision, asking the world to help him "send a message to Christian Brothers High School that there's no place for discrimination in school."
On Monday, Sanderson showed up for school as usual -- but was immediately told to go home, and to stay there for the week. The reason? NewNowNext reports that "CBHS did not 'appreciate the unwanted publicity' the story had generated and were receiving insults as a result."
Sanderson's school isn't officially calling this a suspension (at least as far as Sanderson's "permanent record" is concerned), but it certainly looks like one. Sanderson told NewNowNext, "I am disappointed that I am unable to sit in class today. While many assignments can be reached online, I was going to take two tests today and an in-class timed essay.
Tomorrow at CBHS, I was going to meet with admissions representatives from around the country (they do not visit often). I hope to be welcomed back into a classroom setting soon.”
He also wrote an open letter to his school's administration, which he forwarded to NewNowNext:
Dear CBHS Administration,
Today I arrived at school around 6:30am. I sat down to complete my assignments for the classes I planned on attending today. At 7:30am, I was speaking to a teacher when an administrator walked into the room and told me to gather my books and come to the office.
When I arrived at the office I was told that the administration “had 890 other students to worry about” and could not deal with me. I was told to go home for the week. I said goodbye to a few teachers and students, then drove home.
I am hurt by this exclusion. It goes against the Lasallian value of brotherhood that the school is supposed to stand for. You won’t let me dance with my date and you won’t let me go to class now either. I had hoped that today would be one for positive conversation going forward. Instead, I was sent home.
I haven’t done anything wrong and haven’t hurt anybody. I want to be welcomed back to the school building today and I want this mean-spirited semi-suspension ended, so that I can do my classwork like anybody else.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote from a Birmingham jail cell: "Let us all hope that the dark clouds of prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty."
At press time, CBHS had not responded to MTV News's requests for comment.