Main | Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MISSISSIPPI: Constance McMillen Wins Prom Suit Against School District

Openly gay Mississippi teen Constance McMillen and the ACLU have triumphed in their lawsuit against the school district that conspired to exclude her from her senior prom.
Constance McMillen will be paid $35,000 plus attorney fees to settle her lawsuit accusing her former school district of discrimination for canceling the senior prom rather than let her attend with her girlfriend. As part of the settlement, the Itawamba County School District also agreed to follow a non-discrimination policy, although officials said such a policy existed in March, when the dispute began. The district does not admit wrongdoing in settling the suit, which was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I knew it was a good cause, but sometimes it really got to me. I knew it would change things for others in the future and I kept going and I kept pushing," McMillen, 18, said in an interview today with the Associated Press. Schools attorney Michelle Floyd noted that the district did not admit wrongdoing by settling the suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. "The Itawamba County School District believes that Constance McMillen's rights under the United States Constitution were not violated by any act, omission, policy, custom or practice of the district," she said in a statement.
In April, Constance and some special needs students were lured to a fake prom while most of the student body celebrated at a secret prom in another location. The ACLU responds to yesterday's ruling:
“Constance went through a great deal of harassment and humiliation simply for standing up for her rights, and she should be proud of what she has accomplished,” said Christine P. Sun, senior counsel with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. “Thanks to her bravery, we now not only have a federal court precedent that can be used to protect the rights of students all over the country to bring the date they want to their proms, but we also have the first school anti-discrimination policy of its kind in Mississippi.”
Last month Constance served as Grand Marshall at the NYC Pride March and has appeared at several other gay pride events in similar capacities. Congrats to our heroine!

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