Fri May 8, 12:05 pm ET
FINDLAY, Ohio – A student at a fundamentalist Baptist school that forbids dancing, rock music, hand-holding and kissing will be suspended if he takes his girlfriend to her public high school prom, his principal said.
Despite the warning, 17-year-old Tyler Frost, who has never been to a dance before, said he plans to attend Findlay High School's prom Saturday.
Frost, a senior at Heritage Christian School in northwest Ohio, agreed to the school's rules when he signed a statement of cooperation at the beginning of the year, principal Tim England said.
The teen, who is scheduled to receive his diploma May 24, would be suspended from classes and receive an "incomplete" on remaining assignments, England said. Frost also would not be permitted to attend graduation but would get a diploma once he completes final exams. If Frost is involved with alcohol or sex at the prom, he will be expelled, England said.
Frost's stepfather Stephan Johnson said the school's rules should not apply outside the classroom.
"He deserves to wear that cap and gown," Johnson said.
Frost said he thought he had handled the situation properly. Findlay requires students from other schools attending the prom to get a signature from their principal, which Frost did.
"I expected a short lecture about making the right decisions and not doing something stupid," Frost said. "I thought I would get his signature and that would be the end."
England acknowledged signing the form but warned Frost there would be consequences if he attended the dance. England then took the issue to a school committee made up of church members, who decided to threaten Frost with suspension.
"In life, we constantly make decisions whether we are going to please self or please God. (Frost) chose one path, and the school committee chose the other," England said.
The handbook for the 84-student Christian school says rock music "is part of the counterculture which seeks to implant seeds of rebellion in young people's hearts and minds."
England said Frost's family should not be surprised by the school's position.
"For the parents to claim any injustice regarding this issue is at best forgetful and at worst disingenuous," he said. "It is our hope that the student and his parents will abide by the policies they have already agreed to."
The principal at Findlay High School, whose graduates include Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, said he respects, but does not agree with, Heritage Christian School's view of prom.
"I don't see (dancing and rock music) as immoral acts," Craig Kupferberg said.
My take: the "seeds of rebellion" the school officials are worried about is the notion that religion, and Baptist fundamentalism in particular, belong to the scrap heap of humanity. It has nothing to do with rock music and dancing and more to do with people enjoying themselves, which is a no-no to these geeks. When I was growing up in South Texas, we referred to this type of Baptist as "hardshell." Funny, I don't recall any of them being "softshell." Where is Kevin Bacon now that we need him?