Thursday, July 29, 2010

Queer Teens Responding To Adversity: Constance McMillen Wins Her Lawsuit Over Cancelled and then Fake Prom

"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," McMillen said in a press release. "I hope this means that in the future students at my school will be treated fairly. I know there are students and teachers who want to start a gay-straight alliance club, and they should be able to do that without being treated like I was by the school."

-Constance McMillen

So I know you've been following this story, here and elsewhere, about how 18 year old Constance McMillen wanted to take her girlfriend to her Mississippi high school's prom, and wear a tux.

Her school freaked out, told her she couldn't.

When she insisted it was her right, they cancelled the prom rather than let her attend.

When she and the ACLU took them to court, the court said the private prom that had been planned instead was sufficient - as long as Constance was invited.

Constance showed at the prom with her girlfriend only to discover that it was a 'fake' prom - only 5 other students were there. All the rest of her schoolmates were celebrating at a 'real' private prom elsewhere.

Well the case finally resolved, and Constance WON!

McMillen's lawyers filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court to accept a judgment offer from the Itawamba County School District that will pay $35,000, plus attorney's fees. As part of the agreement, the school district also said it would follow a policy not to discriminate based on sexual orientation in any educational or extracurricular activities or allow harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

It's good stuff, but Constance has paid a price for standing up for herself and other queer teens:

...being shunned in her small hometown of Fulton.

"I knew it was a good cause, but sometimes it really got to me. I knew it would change things for others in the future and I kept going and I kept pushing," McMillen said in an interview Tuesday.
Constance has really trailblazed for GLBTQ Teens, and it's great to see her being recognized for it - she was the Grand Marshall at the New York City Gay Pride Parade this June, and is even reportedly filming a gay rights documentary this summer!

How amazing to take setbacks that might have stopped other people, and rally back to fight... and ultimately win so others won't have to fight the same prejudice in the future.

Thanks, Constance!

I'm really proud of you.



Angie said...

Wonderful news! :D Thanks for the link.

Oh, and this bit:

The district also agreed to follow a non-discrimination policy as part of the settlement, though it argues such a policy was already in place.

Sure it was -- that's why they wouldn't let a lesbian student attend prom with her girlfriend, because they already have a non-discrimination policy. :/ Who the bleep do they think they're fooling? [huge eyeroll]


Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I've been following this story from the very beginning! I am SO happy for Constance and that she finally received justice! She was so much braver than I was when I was in high school.

I was asked to the prom by another girl but unlike Constance, I was too much of a chicken shit to stand up to my (*cough*CATHOLIC*cough*) high school and go with who I really wanted. :)

I hope this case paves the way for other GLBTQI kids out there who are struggling in their schools.