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School Wrong, But Prom Won't Go On


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.

Read the full story here.

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Reader Comments
  • Name: FlexSF
    Date posted: 3/24/2010 6:11:25 PM
    Hometown: San Francisco


    Are you happy now, religious fascists? This is the product of your disgusting religion. I absolutely hate you, and the blind faithful fools that follow you. Go to hell!

  • Name: Anthony
    Date posted: 3/24/2010 1:52:13 AM
    Hometown: White Bear Lake, MN


    This makes me so sad :( what is wrong with the folks in Mississippi… if they keep this stance they are going to fall behind in the world. No matter if they like it or not times have changed and tolerance should be taught to all kids… this sends the message of hatred to the students of Mississippi! Where is their respec...t for human kind? The school system has a responsibility to teach and prepare these kids for life out of school… our workforce is more divers now then ever and we will be competing on a global level soon that will require acceptance of many different walks of life.

  • Name: Janel
    Date posted: 3/24/2010 12:40:20 AM
    Hometown: Nampa


    I believe that private parties can rent space in a public building. I know that libraries often have rooms to rent for community meeting or small conference type situations. These guidelines may vary from state to state, but if that's the case, a private party may be able to rent space from the school for an invitation only event. That sucks I know!!! I do have to say GO CONSTANCE!!! What you have done has taken a great deal of courage. Way to go for sticking to your principles. It's people like you that won't yield silently into the bigotry of the people around you who will bring about real and permanent change.

  • Name: Bruce Lang
    Date posted: 3/23/2010 10:06:30 PM
    Hometown: Bloomington, Illinois


    Sounds like the school remebered the "disruption of class" standard from the Des Moines, Iowa armband case years ago. I would hope that some of the other kids would start a boycot of the private prom, but that may be too much to hope for. I'm pleased the case was won, but sad at the actual results of the whole situation. She and her partner would be welcome at our youth center's prom this spring if we can get it put together.

  • Name: Jolosturo
    Date posted: 3/23/2010 7:56:33 PM
    Hometown: Palm Coast


    I think some gay rights group/s should stage a prom for her class since the school is trying to make her look bad and place the blame on her. I can't believe these backwards attitudes in this day and age. It's so ignorant.

  • Name: Jay
    Date posted: 3/23/2010 7:34:48 PM
    Hometown: Santa Monica


    So much for equal rights in this country. The law is very clear, but did anyone really expect that a judge appointed by George Bush in Mississippi would actually enforce the law? Shameful.

  • Name: Jen Quarty
    Date posted: 3/23/2010 7:29:25 PM
    Hometown: NY NY


    I sorry did I miss understand "private prom" at a public high school. If state funds pay for that school......no private prom that excludes active students in good standing. Get back to work ACLU shut the private party down.

  • Name: MobtownGuy
    Date posted: 3/23/2010 5:44:53 PM
    Hometown: Baltimore


    She should file a lawsuit against the school/school district - for a reasonable amount - so that other schools think twice before acting so foolishly.

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