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Constance McMillen Should NOT Get Her Own Prom

March 17, 2010

UPDATE: While the court ruled March 23rd that Constance’s constitutional rights were violated when she was denied the right to attend prom with her girlfriend, the court would not order to school to re-instate prom. From the ACLU:

It’s a victory for all LGBT students that the Court found that students have a First Amendment right to bring a same-sex date and wear gender non-conforming clothes to the prom. While we’re disappointed that the Court ruled that it couldn’t force the school to hold the canceled prom, Constance is thrilled and will continue the fight.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE March 17, 2010

Constance McMillen is 18 years old, a senior, and ready for prom.  She’s also gay- and as far as her school district is concerned, there won’t be any prom- for any students. Why?

From the ACLU

The ACLU wants Itawamba County School District officials in Fulton, Mississippi to reverse their decision to forbid a lesbian student from attending prom with her girlfriend and from wearing a tuxedo to the prom. Constance McMillen, a student at Itawamba Agricultural High School, came to the ACLU for help after school officials told her that she could not come to prom with her girlfriend, also a student at IAHS, and that if they arrived separately but slow-danced together they might be thrown out.

In response to a letter demanding that the school allow Constance to attend prom with her girlfriend, the school board issued a statement saying that they were canceling prom for all students.

The blatant discrimination of this young woman has thousands up and arms.  Constance has been everywhere in the news and on the internet, telling her story- and also taking a lot of heat from those who disagree with her “lifestyle”.

For the record, the school district has said the residents support the decision- apparently they went door to door and asked each and every one of them before making their decision *insert eyeroll here*.

Many groups have stepped forward and offered to sponsor a “gay friendly” prom (one that anyone could attend, gay or not) so Constance and others don’t have to miss out on this age old tradition.

Those who oppose Constance attending the “normal” prom focus on a “lifestyle” they don’t agree with.  Those who support Constance seem to have a better understanding of gay rights as a civil rights issue.  Civil rights is about equality, it’s about treating Constance and her female date the same way we treat Jimmy and his female date.  They dance on the same dance floor, drink the same punch, take pictures in front of the same cheesey backdrop, and generally party the night away- for the extremely lucky there’s a hotel room involved- but I digress.

A girl from Mississippi, minding her own business, living her life just being a teenager is suddenly the poster child for gay rights.  Her detractors want her to shut up.  Some who support her do so because they want her to advance the cause of gay rights- to sacrifice.

But she has already sacrificed enough.  Her school and its district have attempted to rip a part of her life away- simply because they want to and believe they have the power to do so.  The adults who want to refuse Constance don’t plan to flinch in this fight.

The ACLU isn’t backing down from the bigots in Itawamba either.  They filed an emergency petition and have all fingers crossed for a quick- and favorable decision by the court.  From CNN:

The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for a quick legal decision, hoping to save a high school prom that was allegedly canceled because two lesbians wanted to attend it together.

The rights group filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against a Mississippi school district and high school in federal court Tuesday over the April 2 prom.

The case will be argued before a federal judge in Mississippi on March 22, the ACLU said.

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

Also, when McMillen expressed a desire to wear a tuxedo to the prom, the district superintendent told her only male students were allowed to wear them, according to court documents.

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

School district officials could not be reached for comment. But the county’s board of education said in a statement last week that “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.”

Here’s my opinion; Constance shouldn’t get her “own” prom- that’s not a solution to a civil rights violation.

If she isn’t allowed to attend her high school prom with the rest of her classmates, it is a violation of her right to be treated equally in this country.  

I’m not gay- but I am a member of a group of people who experience discrimination on a regular- I’m a Black woman.  When I see things like “special” or “gay friendly” prom- that still sounds like segregation to me.  Just the thought brings so many images to mind, so many stories handed down through my family.

It also makes me think about the Supreme Court’s Brown v Board ruling, where they declared clearly, separate cannot be equal…a separate prom for Constance- or any other gay teen- is not equal.  If she has to settle with a “special” prom, the battle will have been lost.  The fight is for equality.

There is only one prom- and Constance should be there.

Info about plans for an alternative prom can be found here and here.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. In Som Niac permalink
    March 17, 2010 11:38 am

    Quickly answer the question: 1960 or 2010?”School district officials could not be reached for comment. But the county’s board of education said in a statement last week that “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.”

  2. Equality NOW permalink
    March 17, 2010 5:31 pm

    Yikes! This title is getting mild heat on facebook, from those who haven't taken the time to CLICK the link and actually read it. ha ha, I see why you worded it the way you did- it catches the eye.I have also seen news stories about a gay prom or an alternative prom thrown by outside groups. One of them, the MSCC came out and clarified the prom was for all- they'd original poorly worded the title to appear as if it were only for gay teens. either way, it's NOT THE HIGH SCHOOL prom, it is AN ALTERNATIVE. That's not equal. Cudos to the writer.I have to say you made me rethink my position. I've always been FOR Constance taking her girl to the school prom. Then, when I heard so many were stepping up for an alternative prom, I thought, “well, as long as she gets a prom in the end, it's fine- wrong, but we'll all live.”But you are right. An alternative prom isn't the point.

  3. noqueerallowed permalink
    March 17, 2010 7:10 pm

    suppose I will be blasted here since it looks like everyone on this site is gay or gay supporters. I think Constance McMillen knew exactly what she was doing that it would cause chaos. She does not seem to care about her fellow students just herself and her selfish sodomite sex in everybody’s face. Shame on you Constance for arrogantly shoving your perverted sex in everyone face. If the students turn on her that is on her. She started it, now will have to suffer the consequences. Students can be very mean to each other I remember high school days. Whats the ACLU going to do put all the students in jail if they don’t accept her?????

  4. March 18, 2010 12:03 am

    @noqeerallowed Constance knew exactly what she was doing, really? So did Rosa Parks, and what's your point? She seems to care about her rights to take her date to the prom just like every other student who attends the high school. Perverted sex? What an idiot. Who said anything about Contance having sex? You did, you perverted idiot, you. Constance mentioned nothing about sex or shoving anything in anyone's face. She simply wants the same allowance as everyone else at the school. The ACLU is going to set things straight within the school District, which will ultimately mean equality for all students regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Put the students in jail? Do you even know what the ACLU organization stands for? Freedom of speech and equal rights in this country. Perhaps you should actually do your research and know what you're talking about before giving a backwards opinion.People like you are what's wrong with this society. They were what was wrong with society back when black people had to go ALL OUT just to be treated equally. You would be considered a racist with your views back then, and now, you're nothing more than a wayward homophobic bigot. Separate but equal is not equal, you're right. However, I know that any alternative prom that is thrown will be ALL inclusive, so what's the fuss, really? Gays have no reason not to be inclusive of everyone. We leave that up to hypocritical bible thumpers.

  5. March 21, 2010 1:59 am

    noqueerallowed wrote: ” I think Constance McMillen knew exactly what she was doing that it would cause chaos.” but it didn't have to cause chaos. If the school district simply ignored it, then no chaos would have ensued. They were free to ignore it. It wasn't a big deal until they made a big deal out of it.noqueerallowed wrote: “Shame on you Constance for arrogantly shoving your perverted sex in everyone face.” but Constance isn't shoving her sex (perverted, sodomite or otherwise) into everybody's face anymore than the other couples at the prom are shoving their sex (pre-marital, possibly also sodomite, or otherwise) into everybody's face. Where is the outrage over that?Finally, I hadn't heard any stories about students not accepting her or turning on her. People are free to personally disapprove, but government entities, such as school boards, are not free to discriminate.

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