BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama high school student who went on stage during a high school talent show to ask another girl to attend the prom was disciplined for being “rebellious,” her mother said Thursday.
Janizia Ross, 17, was given an in-school suspension following the proposal, which occurred at Alexandria High School in eastern Alabama, mother Jeanise Ross-Walton told The Associated Press in an interview.
Other “promposals” and even a marriage proposal have occurred in past years during the annual talent show, Ross-Walton said, and she believes her daughter was singled out for being what officials called “rebellious” because she asked out another girl.
“They are girlfriend and girlfriend,” she said.
Principal Mack Holley later announced over the school public address system that Alexandria is a “Christian school” and apologized to anyone who was offended by what happened, Ross-Walton said.
Holley did not return an email seeking comment. But a statement posted on the website of the Calhoun County School Board said published accounts “may have created a misimpression regarding the school’s rationale in responding to the situation in question.”
An investigation showed school officials “fully honored” a commitment to equal educational opportunities for everyone, said the statement, which cited “legal constraints” in not releasing information about disciplinary matters.
The school is located in an unincorporated community of about 3,900 people roughly 65 miles (100 kilometers) east of Birmingham.
Social media is full of videos and photos of elaborate prom proposals, and Ross-Walton said her daughter made a rain-colored poster with the word “prom” to ask her girlfriend at the show, which was held Tuesday. A teacher carried the poster to maintain a surprise, she said, and the show sponsor initially approved a plan for Janizia, who was a stagehand, to pop the question after a performance by her girlfriend.
The sponsor later withdrew permission, she said, but the master of ceremonies didn’t get the message and called Janizia out on stage, Ross-Walton said. The woman said her daughter “panicked” and made the proposal as initially planned.
“They hugged and walked off stage,” she said. “That was it.”
Both her daughter and the MC received in-school suspensions, said Ross-Walton, who disagrees with the punishment.
“This was harmless,” she said.