Hnn | HNN Articles

Prom in Mississippi: AHA Leaders and Friends Promote Love Over Hate

 
By MAGGIE ARDIENTE

For HumanistNetworkNews.org
May 13, 2010

Leaders and friends of the American Humanist Association were proud to participate in the second annual Second Chance Prom at the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo, Mississippi. The event, hosted by the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (MSSC), welcomed LGBT youth and friends, as well as student Constance McMillen and her classmates from Itawamba Agricultural High School. The school had canceled its own prom rather than allow Constance to attend with her girlfriend.

The AHA was a major sponsor of the prom, along with the Grammy-winning band Green Day, chef Cat Cora of The Food Network, the Human Rights Campaign and Orbitz.com.

AHA leaders in attendance included AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt, Development Director Maggie Ardiente and Field Coordinator Lindsay Gemberling. Also attending were AHA member Todd Stiefel (who with his wife, Diana, made a generous gift of $20,000 to help AHA sponsor the prom) and his friend Robb Taylor, and Diane Griffin of the Institute for Humanist Studies and her partner, Marc Jagoe.

Following a dinner for attendees, an awards ceremony honored several students of the Mississippi Safe School Coalition's Queer Youth Advisory Board and included an appearance by singer and performer Lance Bass (formerly of the popular band ‘N SYNC). Students danced well into the evening to Hey Champ, the Chicago-based rock group, and DJ QuestLove, member of the hip hop band The Roots and house band for the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show.

In a press statement released Tuesday, AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said, "It was wonderful to see this community come together to celebrate and embrace diversity in a welcoming and fun atmosphere. Acceptance and love transcended the bounds of hatred on Saturday night, and I hope all Americans will find value in what has taken shape."

Todd Stiefel, in a report on FriendlyAtheist.com, also stated, "It was great to be able to participate in a happy ending for the school year for these kids. There is nothing quite like seeing kids being themselves, having fun and showing love and tolerance to one another."

American Humanist Association leaders and friends at the Second Chance Prom in Tupelo, Mississippi. From left to right: Rob Taylor, Todd Stiefel, Lindsay Gemberling, Maggie Ardiente and Roy Speckhardt.

AHA leaders and friends got to meet and mingle with many of the event's organizers, including Matthew Sheffield, communications director for the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition; Ashley Jackson, coordinator of MSSC's Queer Youth Advisory Board; and Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi. Another highlight was meeting Candace Gingrich, half sister of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and currently the youth and campus outreach associate director for the Human Rights Campaign.

A number of AHA friends on Facebook were pleased to see us support the Second Chance Prom. Commentator Nathan Wade stated, "The AHA should be extremely proud of the difference you made, not just in those kids' lives but in hopefully making people see how love and positivity always trumps hatred and bigotry in the end. Thank you!"

The American Humanist Association would like to thank Todd and Diana Stiefel for their generous support in helping to make our sponsorship of the Second Chance Prom possible. To view photos from the event, visit our Flickr page at www.flickr.com/americanhumanist.

 

Maggie Ardiente is the development director for the American Humanist Association and editor of the AHA's membership newsletter, Free Mind.

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

To some, Humanism and Hedonism are one in the same. Is that really all there is...

4 hours ago

American Humanist Association

This week's Humanist Hour Podcast features Bob Ready and Sarah Henry as they tal...

6 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Update to the football prayer controversy happening at a Gainesville, GA High Sc...

9 hours ago

American Humanist Association

Fred Edwords reports from this year's Colorado Secular Conference! Get TheHuman...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Two weeks ago, AHA's Maggie Ardiente and Roy Speckhardt traveled to Oxford, Engl...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

The United Coalition of Reason is a national non-profit organization that helps...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is it really that "tragic and bizarre" to remove bibles from hotels rooms in ord...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Throwing some separation of church and state history at you!

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Why does the media usually portray atheists as pretentious, white men? Time to c...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Fields Medal has been awarded to up to four mathematicians every four years...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

The nature of the backlash to our recent legal case concerning pray in public sc...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday!

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Religious differences within the family unit can be difficult. How do you feel a...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Here is an update to our on-going Carroll County, Maryland case involving prayer...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Back to school time! Let's take a look at the most and least religious colleges...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Anyone need a laugh? I sure do! Warning: Language!

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Should someone's religious belief allow them to do whatever they want? No! Get...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

In November, 2014, a new film is coming out about the life of Stephen Hawking. T...

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA legal director David Niose on football and Christian politics in Georgia.

6 days ago

American Humanist Association

Yesterday, the beautiful and talented Lauren Bacall passed away. Just one of th...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

When the AHA, or similar organizations, take legal action in efforts to keep the...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

In this week's Humanist Hour Podcast Dr. Robert M. Price tells us 10 Things Ever...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fox News chimes in on a letter recently sent form the AHA to a Georgia high scho...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Meet the newest staff member of the United Coalition of Reason, Jason Heap! Y...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Fan of Martin Scorsese's 1988 film, The Last Temptation of Christ? It looks like...

8 days ago