Apr 25, 2012



Texanna Edwards

(Tennessean) -- Gibson County High School senior Texanna Edwards was — like many of her classmates — looking forward to her prom last Saturday.

But Edwards didn’t get to attend because of her attire — a knee-length red dress decorated with bright blue stripes and white stars inside the stripes. The school’s colors are red, white and blue, but the dress resembles the controversial Confederate battle flag.

Edwards, 18, said she wasn’t allowed inside the prom after school officials told her the Confederate flag prom dress was “offensive and inappropriate.”

“We asked why they thought that, but they kept saying the same thing over and over,” she said Monday. “We kept asking people walking inside — black and white — and everyone said they loved it. Two black women even went off on the principal. They were upset with the principal. No one was upset with me.”

School officials said a teacher warned Edwards about two months ago that the dress might not be acceptable. The teacher, who served as prom sponsor, expressed concern and suggested to Edwards in February that she should clear the idea with the principal, but Edwards did not do so, said Eddie Pruett, director of schools for the Gibson County School System.

Pruett said there have been race-related issues at Gibson County High School in recent years and that Principal James Hughes thought Edwards’ dress could have caused a problem.

“She was told because of the dress and what it would look like, it would be considered inappropriate,” Pruett said. “She had talked with the prom sponsor and they told her it would be inappropriate. ... I feel like Hughes followed legal precedents set by other court cases. Students have legal rights, and we don’t infringe upon those. But we have to follow legal precedents, and if there is a reason to believe something could happen, we don’t wait until after the fact to do something.”

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