Prom cancellation denied lesbian's rights

Spite bites back: When it canceled the high school prom to prevent a lesbian student from attending in a tuxedo with her girlfriend, a Mississippi school violated the student’s right to express her views, a federal court has ruled. However, the court didn’t order Itawamba Agricultural High School to reschedule the school prom because a “private” prom planned by parents is supposed to be open to all students.

Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi, plans to attend the private prom. “Now we can all get back to things like picking out our prom night outfits and thinking about corsages.”

In the 12-page ruling, the court wrote that McMillen “intended to communicate a message by wearing a tuxedo and to express her identity through attending prom with a same-sex date.”

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  1. This does seem to me like the right split — the school can decide whether or not to host events, but if they do they have to be open to students regardless of illegal discrimination.

  2. I think the school was stupid to cancel the prom, but I have a hard time with the idea that it’s a freedom of speech issue. It’s a high school dance, not a protest rally…

  3. I doubt the Founding Fathers envisioned the freedom of assembly and speech including the right to senior prom. What’s next, the right to Powder Puff?

  4. What is not prohibited is required.

  5. Crimson Wife,

    Freedom of speech applies to so much more than political speech. Being able to wear what one wants to wear (as long as it is reasonable, as it was in this case) and associating with whomever one pleases is definitely what the first amendment was intended to protect. Throw in equal protection under the law, and you have a school district acting not just as a bully, but unconstitutionally as well.

  6. but I have a hard time with the idea that it’s a freedom of speech issue. It’s a high school dance, not a protest rally…

    One would think. How pathetic of that federal court.

  7. I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or serious, cal. If you are being sarcastic, then you have a very dry wit indeed. If you are serious, then you might want to review the Constitution.

  8. superdestroyer says:

    Why do schools still have proms. They are an anachronism that should have been ended long ago. Every year everyone has to read about all of the schools and all of their controversies with proms.

    At a time when 30% of high school student drop out and another 30% are functionally illiterate, and bduget cutbacks do schools really have the resources to spend worrying about proms, homecoming dances, or other non-academic pursuits?

  9. SuperDestroyer,

    I would have to agree with you on this, since the dropout rate hasn’t changed much in the last quarter century, the number of students needing remediation in college is growing by leaps and bounds, and many students graduate without basic skills to read, write, and perform math.

    Perhaps schools will start to re-evaluate what they are actually doing. I always hear the phrase ‘prepare for the real world’, but school has no bearing to what goes on in the real world of work.

  10. Viloated her rights to exactly what? The prom does have a purpose though – how else are kids going to learn what ‘off like a prom dress’ really means?

  11. In at least some schools, the proms are paid for through class fundraisers and ticket sales. The school budget itself is unaffected by prom.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by kriley19, JoanneLeeJacobs. JoanneLeeJacobs said: New blog post: Prom cancellation denied lesbian's rights […]

  2. […] lesbian girlfriend  to the high school prom, her Mississippi school canceled the dance. McMillen sued and won, but the court didn’t force the school to reschedule the prom. Instead, the tuxedo-clad girl […]