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ACLU backs lesbian student, sues Mississippi school over canceled prom

ACLU backs lesbian student, sues Mississippi school over canceled prom

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit Thursday against Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss., after the school district decided to cancel this year’s prom rather than let a lesbian student attend the dance with her girlfriend.


At the center of the lawsuit is a memorandum from the school that was circulated to students on February 5, which stated that prom dates must be of the opposite sex.

School officials told Constance McMillen, 18, last month that she could not bring her sophomore girlfriend to the prom and also told her she could not wear a tuxedo, according to court documents.

When the ACLU got involved (PDF), pointing out the discrimination issue, the school district cited “distractions to the educational process” and canceled the prom for all students.

“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.”

Superintendent Teresa McNeece also told McMillen that she and her girlfriend could be ejected from the prom if any of the other students complained about their presence there, according to court documents.

The ACLU claims that Constance McMillen’s First Amendment right to freely express herself was taken away, and is asking that the U.S. District Court have the school’s prom reinstated.

The group also charged the school district with violating Constance McMillen’s first amendment rights.

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