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. stmary

    O.K. Unless things have changed a lot students are not asked who their date is before the prom tickets are sold and the dance is held. How the heck did the school even know to tell her she could not go? She blabbed.
    No the school should not jusdge her lifestyle and yes she is responsible for having the dance cancelled.
    That said, why not rent a community centre, have the prom and get on with college?

    March 13, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jakedog

    How did they know she was coming and her date was a girl?

    March 13, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. davidson

    School is 100 % correct

    March 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mia

    Wake up people to the 21st century!! Gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals are all around you, so learn to accept it and respect them cause they are people too. Welcome to the real world!!

    Where does it say in the school documents that your date must be of the opposite sex? You can't tell me that this the prom would be the first time her classmates would have been exposed to bi/gay/lesbians. I think the parents are over reacting. The school has the right to cancel a prom for any reason but this reason wreaks of bigotry. Just becasue she's taking her lesbian firend doesn't mean they'll be making out in public, those are just assumtions. As human beings we all have the same righs. For those bigoted parents who fear for their children's lives, have their kids stay at home, insulated from the real world.

    March 13, 2010 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jay Dub

    Discrimination is still alive and well in America. I often here how much progress we have made. It's still there, just hidden. In the past you knew who hated blacks, gays and foreigner. Now, they smile in your face, and say" I have black or gay friends". Now that a little lesbian girl wants to have fun and take her girlfriend to prom she becomes the problem. The school does not want to seem like they are discriminating so they want to cancel the prom for everybody to shift the blame to the girl. I hope the girl wins. She should. I hope she opens the eyes of more people to see that discrimination is still alive and well.

    March 13, 2010 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CW

    I cannot believe that in this day and age of our society that any school would even consider canceling a prom because one student is a lesbian. I feel so bad for all the students who had to suffer because of the prejudice behavior of a few. We don't always have to agree with the lifestyles of the people around us, but we do need to respect their rights as human beings. Shame on the administration at Itawamba Agricultural High School for their gross error in judgment. You are supposed to be the role models for the children, who will one day, make decisions for their generation, our children and grandchildren. There is no excuse for this type of reaction!!

    March 13, 2010 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Patrick

    Wow! Did anyone ever stop to think that this wouldn't even be an issue if this girl and her friend had just bought their own tickets and not announced to the school (and now the world) that they are lesbians? I mean seriously how many of you went to your prom solo and later hooked up with someone? It's true they would probably gotten some stares and a few rude comments, but they would have gone to the prom.

    March 13, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JB

    The real issue is, is this a legal issue that deserves consideration by a court of law. I do not recall where a prom is a right protected by any constitution, nor am I aware of any law that is being disturbed by canceling a prom for any reason deemed appropriate by the governing authority. The solution here is to vote these decision makers out of office if the majority disagrees with their actions. Lets quit litigating over every perceived insult!

    March 13, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. EMW

    Why didn't the girl just show up at the prom with her date? They would have let her in and this big deal would have never happened. (I live in Mississippi and most people here are not ignorant rednecks as the rest of the country likes to make us appear.) It seems to me like she just wants attention or money from a lawsuit. Equal rights are one thing, special rights are quite another!

    March 13, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ugh

    The girl should be allowed to attend with whomever she wants. But the government should not be allowed to force a school to hold a dance, either. Everyone is being ridiculous.

    March 13, 2010 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff NY

    I'm gay and it still gives me a second or two of pause when I see two guys or two girls kissing or holding hands on the streets of NEW YORK!!! That's simply because we're not used to seeing it. We have to all get used to it because it's not going away. Just like our grandparents had issues with mixed race couples, sexuality is now our issue to face.

    Canceling a dance isn't going to solve anything.

    March 13, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mariemartin

    How interesting that love is punished. The U.S. spends millions on war each day: our biggest export is military hardware. But a prom is canceled over an issue of two people in love.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. George Pudlo

    Well this is just ridiculous. For those of you saying that she ruined it for everyone by "flaunting" her sexuality, how so? Are heterosexuals flaunting their sexuality by attending the prob with someone of the opposite sex? I don't think. JT, the school would not have been sued by allowing a lesbian couple to attend a on earth is that considered illegal and worthy of a lawsuit? And as for you Peregrine, I highly doubt it was the girl's intention to ruin it for everyone. Hmmm, I can just read her thoughts now....maybe I should bring my girlfriend to the prom so that I'm famous and then I can ruin it for everyone! Uh, yeah, I doubt that. Nice try though.

    It's time for people to get a grip on reality and realize that we are not all made the same. Life would be pretty boring if we were. What does "traditional" mean anyways? Any sort of tradition is just a socially construed idea, not a set in stone truth of life. I am so grateful to live in a city like Chicago, or any major city for that matter, that has a majority of forward thinking denizens concerned about the social wellbeing and welfare of all people, not just those that look and think like themselves. I assure you there are many types of people that I dislike, but I still believe they have every right to lives their lives the way they'd like to without being discriminated against. We were all created equal, yet some of us don't have equal rights. And for those of you that are about to spit out a comment about how if we allow gays to marry, then we'll have to legalize pedophilia and besiality, hold on. Gay rights and gay marriage are about 2 consenting humans. Neither a child nor an animal can consent to sex or marriage. I'm talking about 2 people with the mental and emotional capacity to have a committed love for one another. What is so bad about that?

    Let me guess Jesus said it was wrong. Well, no, you are wrong. Jesus loves me too, so get out of my face!

    March 13, 2010 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Shanda Bolden

    I think they should have canceled the prom. I think that when you choose to live that kind of lifestyle you should be ready for whatever happens. I know the rest of the students really thank her for messing things up for them. Im so glad she was not in my senior class.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scott in NH

    30 years ago they would have cancelled the prom if a Black or a Jew wanted to go. And people would have said "Why do they have to ruin the prom for everyone else?" In the future, we will realize that this woman has every bit as much right to go to the prom as a heterosexual couple and not one molecule less.

    March 13, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
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