Mississippi Lesbian Banned From Prom But Invited To White House

Mississippi Lesbian Banned From Prom But Invited To White HouseMississippi Lesbian Banned From Prom But Invited To White House

June 21, 2010

Will Also Meet With Congressional Members About Pending Legislation And Lead NYC Pride Parade

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACTS: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org or (212) 549-2568 or media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – American Civil Liberties Union client Constance McMillen will go to the White House on Tuesday to join President Obama at a ceremony recognizing the contributions of LGBT Americans. She will also serve as a Grand Marshal in the New York City Pride parade on June 27.

McMillen made national headlines this spring after her Mississippi high school took the extraordinary step of cancelling the prom rather than allow her to attend with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo. After the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Itawamba Agricultural High School charging that the school violated McMillen’s First Amendment rights, school officials made assurances in court that McMillen would be allowed to attend a “parent sponsored” prom with her girlfriend. On prom night, however, McMillen was sent to a “decoy” prom attended by only a few other students while the rest of her classmates were at a private prom 30 miles away. According to legal papers filed in her case, parents at the school developed the plan to send McMillen to the “decoy” prom at a meeting that included school officials.

“The honor of being invited to join President Obama at the White House ceremony and the amazing support I’ve received has helped me come to terms with what happened over the prom,” said McMillen. “Unfortunately, I’ve heard from a lot of other kids who are having problems at their schools, too. I am grateful that President Obama recognizes the difficulties that LGBT youth still have, and I really hope the attention my case has generated will help encourage Congress to pass a federal law barring LGBT discrimination in schools so that no one else has to go through what I did.”

Before she attends the White House celebration, McMillen will meet with Senator Al Franken (D-MN), who introduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act in the Senate this May. The bill bars discrimination based on “actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity” in public elementary and secondary schools. A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in January by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). McMillen will meet Congressman Polis during the White House celebration.

“For every student like Constance, there are many more who suffer in silence, afraid even to report the discrimination and harassment they are facing at school,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “The Student Non-Discrimination Act will help guarantee that all students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, have the opportunity to learn in a safe, discrimination-free environment.”

Following the White House LGBT ceremony, McMillen will travel to New York where she is the guest of honor at the “All Love, All Woodstock” party in Woodstock, NY, on June 25. On Sunday, June 27, she will be one of the Grand Marshalls in New York City’s Pride Parade. She has also been invited to participate in pride celebrations in Los Angeles and San Diego.

Additional information about McMillen and her lawsuit, Constance McMillen v. Itawamba County School District, et al., is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/fulton-ms-prom-discrimination.

A copy of the ACLU’s letter in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act is available at: www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/aclu-letter-support-student-non-discrimination-act-s-3390. There is also a Facebook group for people who want to support McMillen, “Let Constance Bring Her Girlfriend to the Prom,” at: www.facebook.com/pages/Let-Constance-Take-Her-Girlfriend-to-Prom/357686784817.

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