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Lesbian Teen Banned From Prom to Receive Settlement

Itawamba County school district in Mississippi agreed yesterday to pay student Constance McMillen over $35,000 in damages as a result of her lawsuit against the school district’s anti-gay policies. The agreement also requires the school district to adopt a non-discrimination policy that includes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. McMillen, a lesbian teen who was banned from taking her girlfriend and wearing a tuxedo to prom, sued the school earlier this year. In March, a US District Court judge ruled that the school board infringed upon McMillen’s First Amendment rights. In February, after McMillen requested that her school lift the ban on same-sex couples attending prom, a memorandum was sent to all students, stating all prom dates must be of the opposite sex. McMillen’s school eventually cancelled the prom based on the “the education, safety and well-being of [its] students,” according to CNN after the American Civil Liberties Union became involved. In April, McMillen was invited to a decoy prom, in order to prevent her from attending a separate prom parents had organized. According to McMillen, “They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them. The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to,” reported the Advocate. Following the settlement, McMillen said, “I’m so glad this is all over. I won’t ever get my prom back, but it’s worth it if it changes things at my school,” according to an American Civil Liberties Union Press Release. Christine Sun, McMillen’s attorney and senior counsel with the ACLU’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender project said, “We’re in a conservative area of the country, where people tend to think we can do what we like. This case sends a strong message that that’s not going to fly anymore,” reported CNN.

Sources:

CNN 7/20/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 3/24/10; Advocate 4/5/10; ACLU Press Release 7/20/10