A debate is raging in the Southwest Kansas town of Liberal. It centers around a high school junior who was barred from having her older brother escort her to prom.
Courtney Widener is a dedicated young lady resolved to prevent what happened to her from happening to anyone else in the future. All she wanted was for her brother, Airman Casey Widener, to escort her to prom.
"I feel like what I'm doing is right and I can sleep at night with what I'm doing," Courtney Widener said.
Widener did have trouble coming to terms with being told that her brother would not be allowed to escort her down the red carpet to her prom. The reason? He's too old. Airman Casey Widener had just returned from a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. It was supposed to be a touching tribute, but Principal Keith Adams said no. Therefore, Casey stood at attention at the end of the red carpet and saluted her.
"It's understandable the policy for guests is not over 21," Widener said. "I understand that. There's reasons behind that. But I don't understand the policy for escorts."
Word spread like wildfire in Liberal. Literally every young person we spoke with in town felt the decision was wrong.
"Everyone is very upset about it from what I've heard and I don't like it myself," said Cole Wall, who does not attend Liberal, but attended the prom with his girlfriend. "I think he should have been allowed."
"They should have enough respect for him. He is also an alma mater," said Kyana Carter. "He graduated from Liberal High School. So, for them to do that, just reject him like that, it's pretty ridiculous."
Courtney met for several hours on Monday with the Liberal Superintendent of Schools, the high school principal, and the school board president. The group expects to draft a new policy for prom attendees which would give the principal more leeway in making exceptions for extenuating circumstances.