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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mississippi school board cancels High School prom because gay teen wanted to bring same-sex date

School officials told 18-year-old senior, Constance McMillen (pictured), last month that she could not bring her sophomore girlfriend to the prom and also told her she could not wear a tuxedo. The school then circulated a memo that prohibited same-sex dates. Now they say the prom is canceled.

"Oh, my God. That's really messed up because the message they are sending is that if they have to let gay people go to prom that they are not going to have one," said McMillen. "A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this, so in a way it’s really retaliation."

Clarion Ledger reports:
"Due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events, the Itawamba County School District has decided to not host a prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School this year," school board members said in a statement released through the district’s attorney. "It is our hope that private citizens will organize an event for the juniors and seniors.

"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this causes anyone," the message concluded. READ MORE

USA Today reports:
Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old senior at Itawamba, recently challenged a school policy prohibiting her from bringing her girlfriend as her date to the April 2 prom. McMillen, who is a lesbian, and the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union urged school officials to reverse the policy both on McMillen's choice of date and attire. She also wanted to wear a tuxedo to the dance.
ACLU of Mississippi issued a letter demanding the district change its policy. The letter gave it until Wednesday to decide on a course of action.

The ban on same-sex dates is a violation of McMillen's constitutional rights, said Christine Sun, the ACLU's senior attorney on gay rights. "We believe the law is pretty clear," Sun said. "The school just can't arbitrarily say you have to bring an opposite date to the prom."

A private prom would allow the district to get around the issue, McMillen said. "If they set it up privately they probably aren't going to allow gay people to go and there is nothing that you can do about it," she said. READ MORE

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