A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a Mississippi school violated the rights of Constance McMillen by refusing to allow her to bring her girlfriend to prom but said he won't force the school to host the event.
School officials at Itawamba Agricultural High School canceled prom shortly after telling McMillen she would not be allowed to attend with her girlfriend. Officials said the event was canceled because McMillen’s challenge to school rules had caused disruptions in the classroom.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued in U.S. district court to force the school to host the April 2 prom and allow McMillen to attend with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.
District judge Glen H. Davidson denied the request for a preliminary injunction but said he’ll still hold a trial. A date was not yet set, suggesting any ruling would come after the date for which the prom was originally scheduled.
Davidson ruled that the school had violated McMillen’s rights.
"We consider this a victory," said ACLU Mississippi legal director Kristy Bennett. Bennett added that Davidson's ruling allowed McMillen to amend her petition within 30 days, which would enable her to sue for damages because she couldn't get the prom reinstated.
A private prom celebration planned by some parents at the school will go on next month as planned. McMillen is not invited.
McMillen’s story has grabbed national headlines in recent weeks, and she has talked about the ordeal on The Wanda Sykes Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and Today. She was awarded a $30,000 college scholarship last week by Tonic.com.
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