Dear Amy:

I am a 15-year-old sophomore in high school. I am dating a great guy who goes to my school. We get along remarkably and really care about each other. My dilemma is that he is white and I am black. It doesn't seem like such a big deal, but in small-town Alabama, it's big!

My sister is totally against it. She is constantly saying how embarrassing it is for people to come up to her at school and ask, "Is your sister going out with a white boy?"

My mother wants me to break up with him. She says it's because she doesn't want me to have a boyfriend. She said the same thing about my last boyfriend, but she never asked me to break up with him.

His parents are fine with it. His sisters and brother thinks it's great that we date. All of our friends think that our relationship is fantastic.

Not only is my sister against it, but also I could be held out of certain organizations at school for it. If some teachers were to find out, I could be held out of National Honor Society or get held back from scholarships. How should I handle this?

Small Town, Smaller Minds

Like every thoughtful teen, your job is to behave impeccably and make good choices. Your boyfriend should be willing to come to your house to meet your mother, and I hope that she would agree to meet him.

Of course, your mother does have some control over you; she is the head of your household, and she does get to say whom you can spend time with, but she needs to give you some good reasons. Perhaps she feels that he's too old for you, or maybe she's nervous because, at 15, you are too young to be in a serious relationship (I happen to agree).

You have my permission to completely ignore your sister's opinion. She is bugging you because that's what sisters do.

According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for any public school to discriminate based on race, and if your school is doing that, then you should speak with the principal, the school board and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.

Some small towns may contain small minds, but it's your job as a citizen who will someday inherit this country to do everything you can to fight it.

Dear Amy:

I am going on a trip to New York with my family. We plan on going to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium, where we will watch the Yankees play against our favorite team.

I would like to bring a sign to hold during the game -- nothing extreme, just a small sign showing support for our team. The problem is that my parents think I should not bring a sign so as not to attract negative attention from overzealous Yankees fans.

I would like to make a sign, and I think nothing terrible will happen if we do. I think it would be a good way to support my favorite team. What do you think?

Rooting for the Visiting Team

I assume that you and your family haven't spent much time in Yankee Stadium. If you had, it would be obvious to all of you that Yankee fans are no more unruly than other fans. In fact, Yankee fans tend to be better behaved than the Yankee players for whom they are rooting. You are so lucky to be spending some time in the Bronx -- attending a game in Yankee Stadium is truly an awesome experience.

Perhaps you could prepare your sign, fold it neatly into a smallish square, and carry it in with you to the stadium. If your parents determine that you are safe and sound in your comfy seats, perhaps they will give you permission to bring out your sign during the seventh-inning stretch. However, this is most definitely up to them.

Depending on the outcome of the game, it could be unwise for you to unfurl your sign afterward onboard the very crowded subway train leading away from the station. Post-game emotions onboard the "D" train can get pretty hot. Sit quietly and don't make eye contact.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

(c)2005 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.