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.

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

    She probably did this just for the publicity and to get on national news and TV. This is her 15 minutes of fame. 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.

    March 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Advocate

    I enjoy how public schools, supposedly the bastions of education, equality and tolerance, can teach their students to discriminate, fear, hate and hide something that they don't understand. Way to produce more narrowminded bigots, America! We're certainly in no shortage of them!

    March 12, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  3. doug

    she looks like she is 30 years old!!!!

    Its the schools prom they can hold it or not.

    BTW Does anyone really have a good time at the prom?

    Seems to me the fun part was getting drunk at the after party.

    March 12, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JT

    If the school district held the prom and allowed the lesbian couple to attend, they might've gotten sued for allowing the lesbian couple to attend.

    If the school district held the prom, but did not allow the lesbian couple to attend, they might've gotten sued for not letting the lesbian couple attend.

    If the school district doesn't hold the prom, they get sued.

    No matter what the school district does, they'll get sued. What action are they supposed to take?

    March 12, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Norma

    phoenix abby-yes they are. hard to believe its still like that, huh? its because no one stands up for themselves or others and most down here would rather look the other way than inconvenience themselves.

    the school has the right to cancel prom for whatever reason they see fit? if this was the case, then peoples rights (not just the one to choose/express your sexuality) would be getting violated all the time for "reasons [they] see fit". would it be fair to cancel prom because minorities are going to be there?

    and i agree the school IS NOT REQUIRED to have a prom. but the problem lies in the fact that they are not going to have one because they dont want a lesbian couple enjoying themselves at an event that has been a tradition in high school forever.

    plain and simple, if you see nothing wrong with this, then you obviously dont like homosexuals or anything thats not considered "normal"

    March 12, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dstep1217

    At my daughter's prom (way) back in 1998, in Wheaton, IL, a very conservative Christian town, a friend of my daughter's brought her lesbian date, who wore a "tuxedo" – and nobody batted an eyelash. Please – as someone else above stated, live and let live. It's only a prom, not a marriage. What a terrible example to teach your kids – so intolerant. And no, Peregrine, I highly doubt she "did it for publicity".

    March 12, 2010 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Reggie

    There is a lot of hatred out there. Whoever made that decision should be fired. Mississippi still has a long way to go to join the world community.

    March 12, 2010 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Elizabeth

    Rules are rules and she knew her request was going to be denied. The aclu supposedly cares about the community but is making the school district spend money it does not have defending itself. The money could be used somewhere else where it is really needed.

    March 12, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. 2hourpour

    The school administration should set rules and standards but not the kind that discriminate against others. This a horrible standard to deny everyone at the school their senior prom because "somebody wasn't willing to have a heterosexual preference" so she ruined it for everyone. Way to teach the future generation of the south to carry on with the bigotry. Great role models they got down there......

    March 12, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. rsrcs

    Everybody deserves the right to be happy. If she wants to bring her girlfriend to the dance she can she has rights. But thats right people like to put there nose where it dont belong

    March 12, 2010 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. amustang

    I agree that I have no right to keep someone from being gay, but frankly, if I were 18 and had to watch a couple of chicks make out at my prom, some of the magic would be gone. I don't think they should have cancelled and Lesbians and gays have rights.

    However, I still can't get used to watching girls make out with girls and guys make out with guys. I'm trying, but frankly it still turns my stomach. So in this situation, if they started getting what I considered "gross" I'd just have to leave. Is it wrong of me to have feelings about something, too?

    March 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thomas

    Look, being gay in today's culture automatically makes you different, and to the people we look up to and respect to exacerbate that feeling of being different is simply unacceptable. We look to our teachers and staff as being friends and mentors, and to have it turn around and used against you is extremely hurtful. Set aside your petty dislike for what's different and let kids, all kids, enjoy their lives.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eric

    Every member of the Itawamba County School District who was in favor of canceling the school's prom or this issue should be immediately removed from their respective positions and never again allowed to play a part in influencing the education of a child. Any child! Then they should go get themselves checked for brain activity. This young lady is simply expressing a wish to bring a female partner as her date to the prom, not a gun (I'll leave my gun rack diatribe for another time). I'm sure a fair number of people reading this post attended a prom or two in their past in "stag" fashion with friends of the same sex, which is no different in the end. It's not like the prom is a forum for young people to freely engage in sexually expressive activity - the chaperones at such events will surely prevent any of that from happening. Yet, I'm sure the same geniuses who decided to cancel the prom haven't thought twice about what young heterosexual couples are doing after the dancing ends. Sex (surprise, surprise...Mississippi ranks 3rd nationally in teen pregnancy rates), smoking (more than just cigarettes), underage drinking, driving under the influence, etc. Next year it could be because too many students are overweight, or some have a problem with acne, or, God forbid, one of them may well want to bring a date of a different race than themselves. We are talking about MIssissippi after all!!! Still thinking the South won the war and that slavery is legal - slavery of the mind and the will of the people, if nothing else. Shameful! Do they realize it's 2010...or do all of the calendars in Mississippi still read 1910?

    March 12, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jonathan

    Public school administrators need to quit trying to run public schools based on their own personal code or beliefs. If they feel that strongly about something like someone's sexual orientation, they should go to work for some private religious school.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chad

    I can't believe what I am reading? Some of you think this is the girls fault? The same constitution that protects the people who are stopping the prom's freedom of religion is the same constition that grants this student freedom of expression. Telling a student they can't participate in a school function because she has a girlfriend is crazy, and if you side with the school you are a biggot. Would it be ok to cancel the prom because she is black, or a muslim? Nobody has the right to discriminate based on age, sex, race, sexual orientation...etc.

    Doesn't the church preach not to judge. Only god has the right to judge right? You religous folks need to start practicing what you preach. You read the good book, but you sure don't live by it.

    March 12, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
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