Lesbian Dates? Developmentally Disabled Kids? Not at Our School Prom…

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard about 18-year-old Constance McMillen of Fulton, Mississippi, and her compelling story.

Itawamba County High School officials denied McMillen the right to bring her girlfriend to the school prom and to wear a tuxedo to the event. After the ACLU got involved, the school simply canceled the prom. Constance took legal action against the school to try and have the prom reinstated. As part of a preliminary ruling in the case, the presiding judge found that the school had indeed violated McMillen’s constitutional rights, and had subjected her to emotional harm because of the backlash she faced from her peers, but declined her request to reinstate the prom because a private function had been organized and the court had received assurances that Constance was invited to attend.

That prom was reportedly canceled last Monday, but was then reinstated, and McMillen was told that, yes, she could attend with her girlfriend and that she would be allowed to wear a tux.

Great, right? Everyone gets to go to prom, bring the date of their choice and everyone can have a good time. Wrong.

McMillen was in for a nasty surprise when she attended the prom on Friday night. From The Advocate:

McMillen tells The Advocate that a parent-organized prom happened behind her back — she and her date were sent to a Friday night event at a country club in Fulton, Miss., that attracted only five other students. Her school principal and teachers served as chaperones, but clearly there wasn’t much to keep an eye on.

“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”

Last week McMillen asked one of the students organizing the prom for details about the event, and was directed to the country club. “It hurts my feelings,” McMillen says.

Two students with learning difficulties were among the seven people at the country club event, McMillen recalls. “They had the time of their lives,” McMillen says. “That’s the one good thing to come out of this, [these kids] didn’t have to worry about people making fun of them…”

McMillen has said that she was aware of the other event, but when she asked if she was allowed to attend, she was told no.

It’s unclear at this time whether the school administration was in fact aware of the other prom, and the school has not yet commented on Friday night’s events, however pressure grows for them to make a statement.

Constance’s legal team at the ACLU, however, is said to be examining what happened on Friday ahead of the coming court case:

“We are disappointed at the sparse attendance, and we’re looking further into the situation. Whatever we find will be brought to the court’s attention, whether it is in the damages trial, or whatever. There will still be a trial on the merits. The case didn’t end in the preliminary hearing.” –Kristy Bennett, legal director for the ACLU of Mississippi.

In a further statement to MSNBC, the ACLU commented that they are now investigating the impact of this being a “fake” prom, saying:

“It would be deeply troubling if that turns out to be the case since the fact that this prom was occurring was one reason the judge did not force the school district to reinstate its original event,” the ACLU added. “All Constance has ever wanted was to be treated with equality and dignity and to be able to be herself, and this latest event, if it is as it appears to be, is a sad and unfortunate insult added to too many previous injuries.

On a personal level, though, this seems to be about as hurtful and petty as it gets. It is true that no one can force a privately organized prom to be inclusive, as it is entirely up to the organizers who they invite. Similarly, you can’t force the student body at large to attend the same prom as McMillen.

But this “boycott” of the official prom as one school member is reportedly calling it doesn’t stop the act being mean-spirited and aggressively underhanded. To add to that, sending two developmentally handicapped students to the boycotted official event really speaks volumes about these exclusionary tactics.

Many parents in the area cited morality as the reason for their distaste at Constance bringing a same-sex date, and held it up as a reason why they didn’t want her to attend the first private prom. That sentiment falls apart when the two developmentally disabled students are factored in. What was the morality behind those students being directed to the fake event? Were they unintended casualties in this awful affair? Or were the kids at the school simply following the example set by their parents and the school board by excluding anyone that was different from the much lauded norm?

Fundamentally, I believe that this all comes back to the school board’s original actions.

When they chose to cancel the first school sponsored prom rather than let McMillen bring her girlfriend, they effectively turned McMillen’s classmates against her. This is the result.

Moreover, as is so often the case when it comes to this kind of prejudice, an insidious bleed has occurred, intolerance begetting intolerance, and now we find two other students, also different from their peers, have apparently been similarly marginalized.

Meanwhile a date for McMillen’s forthcoming court case, in which she will be seeking damages from the school, has yet be set, but an announcement is expected in the next few weeks.

No doubt we’ll have updates on this story over the next few days as the fallout continues, so please check back.

Update 1 – 06 April, 2010: In the wake of this most recent news, various Facebook groups
have been set up against Constance McMillen. One such group, Constance Quit Yer Cryin, was reportedly created by one of her classmates. Many of Constance’s supporters have overwhelmed the board with messages of support for Constance. See the group here. (Link disabled.)

– A note: When the link was added above, the tone of the Facebook page was focused on simply voicing support for Constance. It has been brought to my attention that this is no longer the case. In the interests of not adding to a climate of hostility, the link has been removed. If you still wish to view the board, I’m sure it is reachable through searching on Facebook. Thank you.

Related Care2 Petition:

Support the Student Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that public schools do not discriminate against students on the basis of their LGBT identity.

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Andrew Davis
Andrew Davis2 years ago

These people need to be Named & Shamed. They need to make a Public Apology, to Constance & the other students who were sent to the Country Club & not invited to the True School Prom.

Lee Jones
Freda Lee J.5 years ago

Discrimination of all kinds is alive and ill and living in Mississippi!! Phew!! What goes around REALLY goes around people - all those bigots are in for some fascinating times...

Rhianna T.
Rhianna T.5 years ago

um what does elegance or as you point out lack of ?have to do with lesbians?? are the Oscars elegant or hollywood mansion parties or did i miss that rule about being bar brawling dirty shirt shaved head butch dikes are the only lesbians what elegant extravagant hedro state do you live in?

Jeffrey N.
Jeffrey N.5 years ago

This is 2010, and if people had not noticed It is OK for gays and lesbians to marry. If a boy can take a girl or a girl take a boy to the prom than a boy should be able to take his boy friend and a girl should be able to take a girl friend. http://tinyurl.com/4xvkkk

Scott E.
Past Member 5 years ago

what did you expect? mississippi isn't the most enlightened place in the world.

Carol C.
Carol C.5 years ago

Well, they got their 15 mins. of fame.

nita D.
Past Member 5 years ago

There is no excuse for what has happened to these children. With as many bad things as I've heard about proms and the trauma associated with them I wonder why we have them at all. But to exclude a child? How horrible.

Phyllis P.
Phyllis P.5 years ago

Constance McMillan and her partner are, before and above anything else, Human Beings! For a group of people to call themselves Christians, and then espouse hatred for these 2 human beings is, to me, UNchristian!!! It is bad enough that the students to act this way, but for adults to allow it to happen and to approve of it and even encourage it is extremely scary!!! I have a question for all of those who took part in this little event, because I'd really like to know. What is it like to be so "pure" and free of any sin or wrong doing?

Patricia P.
Patricia P.5 years ago

I never went to the high school prom partly because no boy asked me and partly because, to avoid standing out, one had to wear a prom dress or skirt the same length as a miniskirt (this was in 1971). Even then, I hated miniskirts. When I was in elementary school at the height of the miniskirt craze, my
mother made me dresses that, while not exactly miniskirted
were still shorter than I felt comfortable in.This was when I was eleven or twelve years of age. I remember feeling envious of a classmate of mine in elementary school because for the class picture, she got to wear a dress that was gathered at the waist and below the knee--and I did not. The dress I wore was short enough and had little enough material in it to make me feel exposed and uncomfortable even though, by the world's standards, it was a decent dress.

As for the lesbian dates, if they went to the same class prom
as those who wanted nothing to do with them, the lesbian dates might have been at risk of being bullied after the event.
Why run the risk? Don't forget there have been students of
heterosexual, maybe homosexual orientation too, so badly bullied that they killed themselves. There are many more still alive who are suicide risks because of being bullied, in every way possible.

First priority is to make the schools safe enough so that no one is driven to suicide by other students!

Rhianna T.
Rhianna T.5 years ago

cases of eugene d harringtion priest abuse kids kids are silenced fathers rape and or beating kids (as long as the go to church on sunday ok dwi killers well we all make mistkistakes unless it affect mr E.D.H aka driver under influnce hits his friend is jailed
evidence on the web pages andd case notes openly displayed

this sounds like Wisconsin raciest judge ensuring white school with his own religious beliefs only all others will be forced out and forced to pay until they give up
12:18 pm PDT, Apr 10, Zimmery Harvey, Pennsylvania Delete Signature Delete
I have personal knowledge and evidence of the very collusion and corruption you speak of in this small untested community of Washburn County, Wisconsin. I would like to hear of others' trips through the looking glass of harrington's "wonderland. Alice's fantasy cannot even hold a candle to his. There were numerous times when I simply could not believe he made the statements he did. Some so bizarre and far from what the evidence proclaimed, I thought he was joking. I quickly realized however, that he is not a jokester, but a racist, and makes no secret of it, on or off the record. I assure you, the stories would make for a three part mini-series on Hard Evidence, 48 Hours, or 60 minutes. I wish anyone having to seek justice or the truth in this arena, have God's grace and help throughout your ordeal. Remember always, God is great, and the truth will never take a back seat to a lie. Keep your faith. Respectfully sign