HRC Blog

Justice Served in Mississippi Prom Date Controversy

Justice has finally been served for Constance McMillen. Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi had its 15 minutes of infamy this spring when it denied Constance the chance to bring her girlfriend to the school prom. The ACLU intervened and a judge ruled that the school could not forbid Constance from bringing the date of her choice. The school responded by cancelling prom completely and Constance faced harassment and alienation from her peers because of it. The ACLU sued the school district for violating Constance’s civil rights and yesterday the case was settled with the school district adopting a non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy covering sexual orientation and gender identity. The district also agreed to pay $35,000 in damages. This is a great ending to a difficult but rewarding chapter in Constance’s life. “I won't ever get my prom back, but it's worth it if it changes things at my school, “ she said in an ACLU press release. While this is a great development for Constance and students at Itawamba, it is only a band-aid on the issue of discrimination and harassment that queer students face in school. There has been no justice for Juin Baize, kicked out of the same school just months earlier for wearing clothes (heels, skinny jeans, etc) that were deemed a “distraction” to other students. Daily, students who are LGBT face harassment, discrimination and the violation of their civil rights. One way that this could be addressed is by passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA)  which would prohibit discrimination against students in public schools on the basis  of sexual orientation or gender identity. Help pass SNDA by sending a message to your member of congress today.

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