March 11th, 2010
03:06 PM ET

Prom canceled over lesbian student

Constance McMillen

A Mississippi High School faces a lawsuit over its decision to cancel its prom rather than allow a lesbian high school student attend with her girlfriend.

The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, alleges that officials at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, are violating the student's First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

The ACLU asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi to reinstate the prom.

"All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student. But my school would rather hurt all the students than treat everyone fairly," said the student, 18-year-old Constance McMillen, in an ACLU news release. "This isn't just about me and my rights anymore – now I'm fighting for the right of all the students at my school to have our prom."

Officials at the Itawamba County School District were not immediately available for comment.

Read the full CNN.com story

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • U.S.
soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Meg

    Well JT. Working on your theory that the school would get sued no matter what, I guess they shouldn've just gone ahead and held the prom. That way everyone would have been happy. Instead, a bunch of small-minded people are trying to get other small-minded people to pile on the shame bandwagon (just look at these posts for examples of "she's ruining it for the rest of us" nonsense), trying to bring the shame of the community upon this one person who wants the simple act of attending the prom with someone she cares about. THEY are the one's who took action and the consequence is that she is suing. If that consequence is objectionable, perhaps the action shouldn't have been taken. I shudder to think what a school like this is teaching about the civil rights movement.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kat

    i dont see why people are being condemned for being themselves these days. gays and lesbians are people too and there are so many of them in society that we shouldnt have to segregate them from normal activities. they should be allowed to live normal lives as well.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. FLcynic

    As far as I know, there's not a law requiring any school to have any type of dance, much less a prom.

    If they wanted to, every single school in the country could opt out of sanctioning this type of extracuricular activity, with absolutely no ramifications, or justification.

    Considering the economy, I say cancel them all. In my day, half the school population never attended, anyway.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mark

    I really don't have a dog in this fight either way; as a photographer in a big city, to see lesbians – even of her age is barely worthy of a notice anymore. Her personal choices are no business of ours – but I do wonder if she anticipated the consequences. But if she wants to jump into an adult "lifestyle", she has to accept adult battles too. Welcome to adulthood.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tim Jenkins

    I hope the ACLU wins, poor girl is going to get blamed by her classmates for what the stupid school did. That is unfortunate

    March 12, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. YankeeSWF

    Why are we surprised by this display of discrimination? Is this not the same state that as of 2-3 years ago still had segregated proms in some high schools?? Charleston High School! To Peregrine: You are right that the school has the right to set rules and standards. The school board chose to cancel the traditional end of the year prom for the other students, therefore, they ruined it. She went to the proper school officials and requested to be allowed to attend the dance with someone of the same sex. They told her that she would asked to leave. She could have just shown up to her prom without respectfully asking permission, therefore "forcing" the issue. Yes, she went to the ACLU, who, despite some peoples beliefs, does actually help to protect our civil liberties. Would you tell Rosa Parks, she sat in the front of the bus for her 15 minutes of fame? Or would you understand the bigger picture and stand up for what you think is right despite the fact that you may be putting a target on your back?

    March 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Marcus Milner

    Not all parts of the country are ready for non-traditional relationships, but it's going to become the norm in another 10 years. This is nothing more than discrimiation that is often tolerated for the sake of religion.

    March 12, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Deb

    Maybe this school is trying to hang onto some semblence of the past. Maybe they don't want to be forced to let this little lesbian flaunt herself and her date at the prom. Maybe they are sick and tired of agenda pushing. Maybe they don't want to give in to the ACLU's tactics. Or maybe, JUST MAYBE, they, like lots of others, are sick to death of a person's SEX LIFE being portrayed front and center over and over. Bedroom activity should not be used as a fighting tool for certain rights or privileges....just do what or who you do and keep it private for god's sake. I am sure this little lesbian was fully aware of the attention that would be gained when the freakin' loud-mouth ACLU was dragged into it. So just go home, put on your tuxedo, and dance the night away honey....and try to come to terms with your agenda ruining everybody else's prom night.

    March 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. RJinCA

    Peregrine wrote: "It isn't fair for one person to ruin the traditional end of year prom for the other students. A school administration has the right and duty to set rules and standards."

    I don't believe this girl's goal was to have the school cancel the prom altogether. Why would she do that? It doesn't make any sense.

    As reported more completely by other media outlets, the school is strongly hinting that a private entity should volunteer to host the prom, ostensibly at a private location where they can "legally" discriminate against whomever they wish.

    The irony is that the students probably couldn't care less about a pair of lesbians attending the event. It's the adult administrators in Twisted Knickers, Mississippi who are creating and perpetuating the controversy here.

    This whole affair is yet another example of Christer intolerance, bigotry and discrimination. Shameful.

    March 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Rosa

    Sure, just have a separate but equal prom. That's what Mississippi is all about, isn't it? It worked 50 years ago, why shouldn't it work now? We never move forward in this country. We never progress, we never accept the ones who are different. This girl is an American citizen, an American high school student, an American teen-ager. She deserves to be treated exactly like her contemporaries. She shouldn't even have to ask to bring a girl, she should just show up with her date like everyone else. Treat her like a human being, she deserves it the same as you.

    March 12, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Voice against MTV & Hollywood

    Her conduct is wrong i.e. perversion of nature and decency. Why are unnatural sexual appetites being exalted and championed as human rights? She has chosen her conduct and her menu, No one has stopped her ...However lobbying to get legitimacy and public approval and acceptance of indecency is and always has been and always will be wrong!

    March 13, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  12. maria

    I went to prom w my best friends
    Boyfriend while he went w my girlfriend. We switched when we got in. It wasn't right then and its certainly not right now. If the student asked if she could bring her black or hispanic boyfriend and the school said no there would be no hesitation to call that discrimination. The glbt battle has not gotten that far yet. People do not understand that 50 years from now discrimination against glbt will be looked at the same way as the days of jim crow. I for one am proud of who I am, and I am proud of you candise for making a stand where so many others would have sat down on the back of that bus.

    March 13, 2010 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. nita

    honestly, what's the big deal..i think the school board is overreacting.

    March 13, 2010 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  14. T.ONeAL

    I find it interesting that those who try to speak against basic civil rights are also grammatically compromised. Dig deeper folks. The rest of us will stand by.

    March 13, 2010 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sharon

    Everyone keeps talking about just her rights. Because she is forcing the issue – no one gets to have a prom. Think about all the other girls that dreamed for years about there prom – I bet they never considered in their dreams it would not happen because of one gay student.

    There is a time and a place for all fights but this is not it. She should have accepted the answer and would have if she cared about the rights of the rest of the class. If it was a just cause; the other students would react accordingly. I've heard live and let live – that goes for everyone. Not just the facility. This is why people have greviances against gays. For gods sake – people don't even want their teenagers to be exposed to sex topics let alone be tossed in the middle of one.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
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