Judge Rules in Favor of MS High School Student in Prom Discrimination Suit

A US District Court judge ruled yesterday that an Itawamba County, Mississippi, school board infringed upon a high school student Constance McMillan’s First Amendment rights when it denied her attendance to the prom because she wanted to wear a tuxedo and attend with her girlfriend. Judge Glen Davidson said he would not fulfill the s request to reinstate the school prom, which has been cancelled. According to USA Today, Judge Davidson said “requiring defendants to step back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue.” Parents have already stepped forward and are organizing a private prom, which will be open to all students. In response to the ruling, McMillan told Agence France Presse, “All I ever wanted was for my school to treat me and my girlfriend like any other couple that wants to go to prom…Now we can all get back to things like picking out our prom-night outfits and thinking about corsages.” McMillan, an 18-year-old senior at Itawamba County Agricultural High School, requested earlier this year that her school lift the ban on same-sex couples attending the prom, reported the Christian Science Monitor. The school responded by sending a memorandum to all students on February 5, stating all prom dates must be of the opposite sex. The American Civil Liberties Union became involved, at which point the school board cancelled the prom entirely, said The Christian Science Monitor. Discrimination against students attending prom is a recurring issue in the states across the Bible Belt, according to the Christian Science Monitor. School dances were racially segregated at another Mississippi school, Charleston High School, until they held its first racially integrated dance two years ago. The event was paid for by Charleston native Morgan Freeman, whose only request was that both races be allowed to attend.


Christian Science Monitor 3/23/10; USA Today 3/24/10; Agence France Presse 3/24/10

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