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. rick

    They should of let her bring her date, good gravy, this was a mountain made out of a mole hill. Now lawyers will get involved and things will only deteriorate.

    March 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mike J

    The cancellation of the prom is not the girls fault. You want to place blame? Look to the school administrators with the irrational fears about gay people.

    March 14, 2010 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Jessica

    She has a right to freedom of expression and the school has the right to cancel prom if they choose to! They did not say they were cancelling it due to this student's intentions to bring her girlfriend so where has the law been broken? This is just another instance where people are trying to push their disgusting lifestyles on others. This world is so backwards and corrupt and it is sad to see our youth being destroyed!

    March 14, 2010 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Danny

    To say this young woman is "flaunting" her sexuality is closed-minded, highly discriminatory, and straight up crazy. A huge part of a high schooler's life is planning for prom, and a huge part of that is the prom date. Would it be fair for this girl to go dateless simply because she's a lesbian? Does she not deserve the same prom memories as a straight student? Is she less important that her straight classmates?
    And now this poor girl has to go through what must be a terrible experience, having the weight of the cancellation of the prom unfairly placed squarely on her shoulders, and hers alone. The decision to cancel was an act meant only to hurt and ostracize her. God only knows what might happen to her in rural Mississippi, (no place quite as bigoted as the South!) and should she be attacked in someway, the school board should be held responsible for allowing their stone age mentality to put her directly in harm's way.
    Thank god the ACLU is here, yet again, to save the day.

    March 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Saria the Cat

    It's true that it's the school's choice whether to hold a prom or not, and that all students are treated "fairly" in this case since *no one* will be able to attend prom, not just this student and her girlfriend. However, what people fail to realize is that the school officials have now created a target out of this girl and her girlfriend and any other LGBT students at the school. I bet the majority of the student body is very angry right now and where do you think they're going to direct their anger towards? Hopefully nothing happens but I'd feel like I was in danger if I was a gay student at that school. There will be alienation and peer exclusion at the *very least,* and at the worst, hate crimes, including death threats. Even if you don't agree with freedom of sexual orientation, you have to admit that this is a poor move on the school's part because it creates targets out of a select few.

    March 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mrsmarshall

    I love all these "no one is required to have a prom" comments. You would rather just tell all the kids in the class that they weren't PROMISED a prom than let a girl bring her girlfriend? And of course it's about all of the students – the fact that one person stood up and asked for an exception doesn't mean there aren't others who were afraid to.

    March 14, 2010 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sparknut

    I have no doubt that the school administrators did this hoping that all the other students would turn against Constance. It's the old theory that punishing the whole class will cause the other students to punish the one person thought to be responsible. In some cases the end of such a game had been tragic. Hopefully this story will have a happier ending.
    Mississippi needs to come into the 21st century.

    March 14, 2010 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Amanda

    Hmm, Seems to me Mississippi still thinks they're living in the 60's

    March 15, 2010 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Steve

    I love some of the uneducated people who decide to post comments based on nothing more than hate and prejudice. "She should use more discretion." "She shouldn't flaunt her sexuality." Are these serious statements? While I don't think a high school should be forced to have a prom, don't blame this girl for her school's bigotry. This isn't all that shocking, however, since the school in question hails from Mississippi. That state still thinks its 1950! Infact, why don't all the deep south state just go ahead and form your own country? It sounded good at one time so why not go for it? Really we wouldn't miss you...

    P.S. That means Florida too. Enjoy God's waiting room...and Disney...

    March 15, 2010 at 12:46 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Steve, I'm dismayed that you think those from Mississippi think it's 1950. That's really the morons who really think it IS still 1950 (otherwise known as Republicans). These folks think it is before the War Between the States....what most of us call "The Civil War." Oh...I'm sorry....I used the word "think" in a statement about rednecks from Mississippi.

      June 30, 2010 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. Shane

    To say that the shcool board is being fair because the cancelled for everybody misses the whole point. They refused to allow her to bring her significant other. And why is bringing the person that she loves to a once in a lifetime event "waving her sexual preference is in bad taste."? Are the straight student waving their sexual prefernces in bad taste? Being the person that she is is not bad taste, it is reality. She shouldn't have to pretend that she is straight to make bigots happy.

    March 15, 2010 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
  11. Shane

    To amustang, if you don't like watching people of the same sex make out, why don't you look the other way, who forces you to state at them? Many straight people don't like to watch other straight people make out either, many gay people don't like to watch other gay people make out either. And guess what, lots of straight guys pay millions of dollars a year to watch two beautiful girls have sex on cable, DVD and magazines. If you don't like it, nobody forces you to subscribe to those channels, buy those DVDs or magazines.

    March 15, 2010 at 4:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. Spider

    I go to this same school. I am involved in a very loving relationship with my dog, Amanda. The school refused to let me take her to the prom too. I hope the lawsuit forces the school to reinstate the dance and makes it open to all of us, regardless of our sexual preferences.

    March 15, 2010 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Cat

      Please enjoy your happy life with Amanda.

      June 29, 2010 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. br

    both the girl and the school are wrong and the whole thing should have been settled privately.
    stop wasting our tax dollars!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Vadim Kramer

    however injust a law, an ad hominem lawsuit is a thousand times more injust. To what end does it serve, f not to embarrass and humiliate the defendant? Why, smack in the middle of our enlightened twenty-first century, it is nothing but the pillory brought back to life.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
  15. tom

    Gee, if they would have just let everyone bring who ever they wanted as a date, there wouldn't have been a problem. Thank god for that ACLU and making sure that EVERYONE is being treated FAIRLY.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
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