Constance McMillen, the plaintiff in our McMillen v. Itawamba County School District case, has been named one of Glamour s Women of the Year 2010. Naming her the “Accidental Activist,” Glamour recognizes Constance’s bravery in the face of her high school administration’s prejudicial reasoning when they denied her request to attend her senior prom with her girlfriend, dressed in tuxedos as they had planned. Instead, Itawamba County Agricultural High School cancelled the prom altogether, causing hostility towards Constance and, as Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network spokesperson Daryl Presgraves stated, sending “a message that these students shouldn’t be treated the same.” As Glamour columnist Sarah Wildman describes, “McMillen confronted the injustice, and by doing so set an example for the world.”
The ACLU congratulates Constance on this well-deserved award, and encourages your support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 4530/S. 3390), a bill that would outlaw discrimination in public schools based on a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Please join with the ACLU to help pass SNDA to support of students across the country who face harassment and discrimination from their peers and their educators based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. No student should have to go through the kind of thing Constance had to endure at her school.
Melissa Etheridge, a 2005 Women of the Year recipient, said of Constance, “She stood up and said, ‘This is who I am.’ When someone does that, it changes the world. It gives hope.” Stand up for SNDA so students like Constance will be protected with the law on their side won’t have to become “accidental activists.”