Constance McMillenThe Mississippi school district that decided to cancel its prom rather than allow Constance McMillen, a lesbian student, to bring her girlfriend will be paying $35,000 plus attorney's fees to settle a discrimination lawsuit that the ACLU filed on Constance's behalf.
As part of the settlement, the school district also agreed to follow a non-discrimination policy and not to tolerate any harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity going forward -- although they seem to believe they already had such a policy. Uh, I guess not ...
Hooray for Constance!
In case you didn't follow the Constance McMillen story, the teen challenged the Itawamba County School District rule that banned same-sex prom dates and girls from wearing tuxedos. The district's response to the challenge? They cancelled the prom.
The ACLU filed a civil rights suit and demanded that the district reinstate the prom. The judge on the case didn't hold up the prom demands but agreed McMillen's rights were violated.
And then it got worse. If you can believe it ...
Soon the district announced a parent-sponsored prom, which turned out to be a "make nice" fake prom that about 10 students, including McMillen, attended. Off-site a privately sponsored prom put on by parents of other kids (!!!) took place and most of the other students were invited and attended.
McMillen believes her story struck a chord across the nation because "prom is a common theme and everyone knows how it feels to want to go to prom. With my story, even if people didn't agree with being gay, they understood. They figured out how cruel some people can be."
Constance ultimately left Itawamba Agricultural High School and finished her senior year at a school in Jackson, Mississippi. She is now living in Memphis, Tennessee, and plans to attend Southwest Community College in the spring, majoring in psychology. McMillen said the settlement money will be used for her college education.
What do you think of Constance's story?
Image via greginhollywood (Flickr)