Photo Credit: AP
There's no teenager in America more courageous than Constance McMillen, the Mississippi girl who was barred from attending her senior prom in a tuxedo or with her girlfriend as a date. To me, the most relevant and moving element of the story is Constance's conviction -- bravely facing her classmates' scorn when her high school chose to cancel the prom altogether. No ACLU action, court decision, celebrity support, or Facebook movement can possibly mitigate that kind of social stress on a teenager.
With the dramatic effects of teen scorn making tragic headlines in the case of Phoebe Prince, it's time for teen media to do a moral gut-check: Is this an issue that merits broadcast attention, or is it just too hot to handle?
For TeenNick in particular, which proudly created The HALO Awards last year to recognize courageous and conscientious youth, is it time to address these issues -- particularly bullying and gay identity -- that so clearly impact contemporary kids?
Nick News is usually the exclusive forum in the Nickelodeon matrix for such discussions. Indeed, 2002’s Nick News: My Family Is Different dove into the subject of gay parenting, but not gay teenagers. Eight years later, I contend this subject has a new focus, a new urgency, and in the case of Constance, a new champion and role model.
I hope TeenNick Chairman Nick Cannon turns his attention away from School Gyrls for a moment and uses his heralded influence to create programming around issues raised by Constance's case. Not just to ghettoize it within the adult-centric confines of Nick News, but to address it in a way that captures the full teen audience's interest and attention. Degrassi is fiction; this is real. And if something called TeenNick won't substantially deal with arguably the most explosive and affecting real world issue affecting teens today, who will?
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Should TV for teens address the Constance McMillen controversy? Chime in below!