School officials in Mississippi violated a lesbian student’s constitutional rights by banning her from dressing in a tuxedo and taking her girlfriend to the school prom, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.
But the judge stopped short of forcing Itawamba Agricultural High School to reinstate the April 2 prom, which it canceled two weeks ago rather than allow Constance McMillen attend the attend the dance with her girlfriend, reports CNN.
In his 12-page order, U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson ruled that McMillen’s First Amendment rights were violated when the school refused to allow her to attend her with a same-sex date.
“The record shows Constance has been openly gay since eighth grade and she intended to communicate a message by wearing a tuxedo and to express her identity through attending prom with a same-sex date,” Davidson wrote.
“The court finds this expression and communication of her viewpoint is the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment.”
Davidson denied a motion for an injunction filed by the ACLU on behalf of McMillen, asking the court to order that the prom be reinstated, saying that parents were planning a private event to be held on that date for all students.
The parent-sponsored event, which may be called a ball instead of a prom, is to be held in Tupelo, 19 miles away, but the ACLU said McMillen had not received an invitation.
At the center of the lawsuit is a February 5 memorandum from the school to students that said prom dates must be of the opposite sex.