Article Comment 

School says prom had issues before lesbian teen filed lawsuit


The Associated Press



ABERDEEN -- Mississippi officials who canceled a prom after a lesbian student asked to bring her girlfriend told a federal judge Monday that there were issues with the event even before that. 


The American Civil Liberties Union is suing in U.S. District Court to force the Itawamba County school district to sponsor the prom and allow Constance McMillen to escort her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo. 


Schools Superintendent Teresa McNeece and school board Chairman Eddie Hood testified that they had discussed not sponsoring the prom even before McMillen challenged a rule that prohibits same-sex dates. They said they had concerns about liability problems, including possible use of alcohol and drugs at a school-sponsored event. 


But they also said they decided to call off the April 2 prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School because McMillen''s challenge to the rules had caused disruptions. 


"We were being hounded every day. Our students were being hounded," McNeece said. "We were having a tough time of any bell-to-bell instruction." 


On cross-examination, school officials did not give specific examples of classroom disruptions. 


McMillen first approached school officials about bringing her girlfriend in December, and again shortly before a Feb. 5 memo about prom rules was circulated to students. Same-sex prom dates had been banned in the past, but she had hoped school officials would grant her request. 


She was told two girls could not attend the prom together and she would not be allowed to wear a tuxedo. The ACLU issued a letter earlier this month demanding that she be allowed to bring her girlfriend and wear what she wanted. 


District officials responded by canceling the event, saying they felt it was the best decision "after taking into consideration the education, safety and well being of our students." 


ACLU attorney Kristy Bennett said in court Monday that the district violated McMillen''s First Amendment rights and that it was the decision to cancel the prom -- not McMillen''s request to bring her girlfriend -- that caused the disruptions school officials described. 


"Any disruption came after the actual cancellation of the prom," Bennett said. 


In closing arguments, Bennett said the district "shouldn''t be able to censor Ms. McMillen''s speech simply by canceling the prom." 


Ben Griffith, an attorney representing the school district, said holding or attending a prom is not a constitutional right. 


District officials "took a step they considered to be necessary," he said. 


McMillen testified the district''s decision led to hostility toward her on campus. She said she left school early the day after the district''s decision and didn''t go at all the next day. 


"There were so many dirty looks," McMillen said. "A lot of people didn''t like me very much." 


The 715-student high school is located in Fulton, a town of about 4,000 in rural north Mississippi. The entire county school district has 3,588 students. 


Principal Trae Wiygul said he had been "bombarded" with e-mails, most from people criticizing the district''s decision. 


"I''ve been called every name known to man," Wiygul said. "I''ve been called a bigot and homophobic." 


U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson, who is hearing the case, did not say when he would rule, but said he wants to do it quickly because "time is of the essence." 


Parents are now organizing a prom. School officials said it is open to the public, but McMillen said she had not been told about it. 


The ACLU and gay rights groups have raised private funds for a May 8 prom in Tupelo that''s open to everyone but geared toward gay students. Bennett said planning for the "second-chance" prom was underway before McMillen''s case began, but "the outpouring for Constance enables this to be a much bigger event."




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Me:) commented at 3/23/2010 11:21:00 AM:

They should let it be its everywhere you look!!!!!!!!!If she wanted to bring her girlfriend to the prom, let her as long as they dont be kissing,touching and doing other things they shouldnt. let them have their fun!!!! I highly respect them I have TWO best friends that are lesbian and they are very much happy and I'm happy for them..........


Article Comment lisa commented at 3/23/2010 11:21:00 AM:



Article Comment Me:) commented at 3/23/2010 11:21:00 AM:

They should let it be its everywhere you look!!!!!!!!!If she wanted to bring her girlfriend to the prom, let her as long as they dont be kissing,touching and doing other things they shouldnt. let them have their fun!!!! I highly respect them I have TWO best friends that are lesbian and they are very much happy and I'm happy for them..........


Article Comment Me:) commented at 3/23/2010 11:22:00 AM:

They should let it be its everywhere you look!!!!!!!!!If she wanted to bring her girlfriend to the prom, let her as long as they dont be kissing,touching and doing other things they shouldnt. let them have their fun!!!! I highly respect them I have TWO best friends that are lesbian and they are very much happy and I'm happy for them..........


Article Comment Julia commented at 3/23/2010 11:46:00 AM:

Sweet jaezus, the grammar on this board is astounding. .


Article Comment GROW UP commented at 3/23/2010 11:47:00 AM:

Look, she got the attention she wanted, she made the Tv shows. This was all a preplanned event. Look at Just how quick the ACLU sprang into action. She could have atteneded the prom by keeping her mouth shut. She may have gotten looks, but I doubt anyone would have made her leave. She wouldn't have gotten the attention she was seeking for her "cause". This way she made herself look like the one who got hurt regardless of whoelse she hurts in the process. I hope she does attend HER prom in Tupelo and the PARENTS host a super prom for everyone else. A memory of a lifetime for both


Article Comment CR commented at 3/23/2010 11:58:00 AM:

Everyone needs to calm down on this subject. It is just a prom, not the end of the world. Having said that, the school is right in saying that attending a prom is not a constitutional right. However, gay or straight everyone deserves to be treated the same.


Article Comment Tex commented at 3/23/2010 12:07:00 PM:

People get a grip it's a prom not Armageddon...there are no right or wrong answers...there are only opinions...and we all know what opinions are like....right?


Article Comment lost interest commented at 3/23/2010 12:11:00 PM:

CR-you have given the best comment i have read or heard


Article Comment MD commented at 3/23/2010 1:11:00 PM:

I'm very proud of the school for standing up for what's right. I wouldn't let my child go to a prom with openly gay/lesbian students. It's just wrong! Read your Bible people! If we don't stand up for what the Bible says is right or wrong, we are supporting the devil himself! I don't hate gay/lesbian people, I hate what they do and I won't condone it in ANY way. I can't control what other people do, but I can control how I react to it and I will stand up for what the Bible says. It's not JUST a prom, it's just another step in pushing tolerance of sin.


Article Comment polly tutor commented at 3/23/2010 1:57:00 PM:

WE need Jesus is all I can say. God help this Nation and it's sinful actions. Scripture tells all, so let me give you some. Lev. 18:22 (ABOMINATION) Romans 2:21-32(UNNATURAL & UNCLEAN)2Tim.3:1-9(TURNING AWAY & LOVERS OF SIN. Be a Paul and rebuke such things 2Tim.3:1-13. Men will not stand with you but do what is right in the sight of the LORD!!!(2Tim.4:10-18) GOD HELP US ALL!!!God loves all his children but not their actions. REPENT and TURN AWAY from theses sins or spend eternity in HELL!!READ it for it is said by GOD not men.KJV BIBLEfrom


Article Comment SipGirl commented at 3/23/2010 1:58:00 PM:

There's an entire forest that needs attention, but we've become obsessed with a couple of trees that really stand out! CR, you're right everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. We all have opinions about homosexuality, but at the end of the day, dignity and respect for a fellow human being SHOULD trump our self-centered opinions. The forest is dying, and we don't even care!


Article Comment PC commented at 3/23/2010 2:04:00 PM:

She dates guys--she always has--she stirs the pot! Everyone has been duped!


Article Comment Tex commented at 3/23/2010 2:43:00 PM:

MD, you wont allow your child to go the prom with openly gay/lesbian now you know they are there, are you going to pull your child out of school too? Your child has been exposed to them all what?


Article Comment Tex commented at 3/23/2010 2:52:00 PM:

And while we are throwing Bible verses around how about these?

If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.
MARK 10:1-12
Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.

Wow that's alot of people living today who are in serious trouble...but they all probably went to their prom.


Article Comment Will commented at 3/23/2010 3:26:00 PM:

This is not a Religious issue! Where were you all the day that the History Teacher taught the lesson on "The Separation of Church and State"? Has the Egual Rights Amendment not become Law yet? Why do we celebrate Dr. King's DREAM?
FACT: Did you know that only One (1) out of every One Thousand (1000) People on this Earth has not had some sort of Homosexual Experience sometime in there lives! I guess if you are One of the Ones, then You Are The Lucky One!
Fact #2, most Gays were Molested as Children by a STRAIGHT PERVERT! Alot of them call themselfs "Men of God" such as Ministers, Pastors, Priest & Clergymen? I remember several in this area that have been caught, like Baptist, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Methodist, Church of Christ, Mormons and what about those Catholics? That's right you Judgeamental Christians, PICK UP YOU STONES AND START THROWING! After all you'll have to answer to God for this Girls Action and not you own?


Article Comment jerry mathis commented at 3/23/2010 3:35:00 PM:

GROW UP,I've heard this same comment by a friend--this was all pre-planned. Do you have any proof of that? If so, I'd like to see it. From what's been published, she did not ask for the publicity she's gotten. She went first to a Mississippi organization, and THEY contacted the ACLU. All she wanted was to attend the Prom with her date. It was the SCHOOL BOARD'S DECISION to cancel the Prom. You know, the funny thing is, if they had let her bring her date, and made no deal about it, probably NONE OF THIS would have happened.


Article Comment larry commented at 3/23/2010 3:46:00 PM:

PC is correct on his comment. This girl has always dated guys until recently. She got what she wanted. Tv and a modest $30,000.00


Article Comment Matt commented at 3/23/2010 4:17:00 PM:

I don't care if she started liking girls the same day that she asked about it. Discrimination is discrimination period! Why don't we bring out the bible verses about races not mixing also. A bunch of white people in north west mississippi also wouldn't let their children go to an integrated prom either. The same people on here that are against gays having any rights I'm sure are the same people that if truth be known hate blacks also. Get over yourselves. You are mostly poor people looking for an excuse to look down on anyone you can find to make your life look a little better.


Article Comment bob commented at 3/23/2010 4:22:00 PM:

As a PUBLIC school, Itawamba need to conform to state and federal guidelines regarding discrimination and student civil rights. Religion should have NO part in the issue as those who are religious hand-pick only passages that support their agenda.

Religion is moderation is a fine thing. It's only when ardent, militant believers start to shove their beliefs on those who do not accept the teachings of Christ. If you want to believe Jesus came back from the dead and awoke as a jewish Zombie that's fine.


Article Comment JC commented at 3/23/2010 4:25:00 PM:

I am shocked that a news story about high school lesbians has gotten so much attention. Shocked, I tell you.


Article Comment Will commented at 3/23/2010 4:25:00 PM:

Well if the Girl did pre-plan this, then the Fulton School should be very Happy, they did a Great Job Educating Her, She VERY SMART! Now let her DANCE!
This School Board is really afraid that the other Gay Kids might "Come Out" and "Shock em all".... Remember some folks like Cornbread with there Peas other perfer Biscuits!


Article Comment Bobby Eiland commented at 3/23/2010 5:17:00 PM:

Bob, I am a Christian and do believe that Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin. I believe the Bible when it tells me that For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish. It is totally the individual's choice whether to accept the free gift of Salvation. I am not ashamed of the Gospel and not ashamed to use my real name.


Article Comment Stormy commented at 3/23/2010 5:21:00 PM:

This is not about her rights or her GIRLFRIEND. It is about a girl getting her 15 min. of fame and her face on the news. You will never convince me that this girl did not do this for attention for HERSELF. I doubt there EVEN IS A GIRLFRIEND.


Article Comment LogicalThinker commented at 3/23/2010 6:15:00 PM:

Let me guess, rather than "expose" your child to homosexuality(afraid you'll catch it? You're genius is clearly showing)I'd be willing to bet that you've raised your children exposing them to second-hand smoke in your double-wide mansion. But then again, I'd also bet you're not a betting person (sin alert)! How about worrying about real dangers our children in MS are exposed to, like foods high in saturated fats and calories? Maybe that's what you really look forward to on Sunday morning or Wednesday nights-the disgusting fatty foods you get to gorge on while getting to judge the Jones?

Ha, I'd love to see some of you. I don't believe in psychic powers but sometimes I amaze myself...

Oh and Will, please let me know where you found these "reliable statistics" regarding homosexuality...In all my years I have never heard such garbage about most gays being the result of a molestation. Come on, there are a lot of fools on here but I'm not one of them.


Article Comment sada commented at 3/24/2010 6:42:00 AM:

Everybody alway talking about the bible, do you live by the bible? Let the kids have fun. There are more important issues out there than a girl taking another girl to a prom. This is 2010 you know. What going to happen the girls going to sue and win. End of subject.
God Love us all regardly of what you are or what you became.


Article Comment PC commented at 3/24/2010 9:43:00 AM:

If the issue is about rights--then you have had your day in court--why is it about money now? Why sue? Why rob people of money--your rights have been dealt with.. let it go.. girl or boy--whatever you want to call yourself..


Article Comment Will commented at 3/24/2010 1:01:00 PM:

LogicalThinker, you name says it all! I speaking from not only for myself but other Children that are Victims of Sexual Abuse from so call Men of God!!!! I spent alot of time in treatment for someone elses SINS. And Let me tell you the Scars never heal completey! YOU ARE THE BIGGEST FOOL HERE!!!!!!!!!! As a Christain I'll be praying for you!


Article Comment m commented at 3/24/2010 1:34:00 PM:

pc- "your rights have been dealt with". well they were found guilty, punishment is meant as a deterrent, without punishment there is nothing to prevent it from happening again (which is what you want). since you can't have their jobs, then i guess if you get enough money maybe the people who elected them will throw them out.


Article Comment PC commented at 3/24/2010 4:52:00 PM:

I am saying--you have had your day in court--let it go! Do not sue the school board and break the city over this junk--your words have been heard--let it go..


Article Comment Kim Vail commented at 3/24/2010 6:11:00 PM:

The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is an abomination to God. It does not say divorce and sleeping around are. They are all sins but God will not continue to put up with homosexuality in the United States. He will eventually punish the nation for its immorality. If the doesn't he will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.


Article Comment LogicalThinker commented at 3/24/2010 7:01:00 PM:

Will, you failed to answer my question (or make any sense in your illogical/poorly written retort). In your above post you stated it was FACT (not your single/personal encounter) that "most Gays were Molested as Children by a STRAIGHT PERVERT!" (love the random caps, is or it this an official organization?) I merely asked where you got your "facts" from and your only reply is that it happened to you..are you saying your incident made you gay? Or do you even have a clue what it is that you are trying to relay? You lost me. Thanks for the prayers, as a Christian myself I'm open for all the prayers I can get but most people fail to forget this country was founded on the seperation of church and state. Your grammar and writing skills make me seriously doubt you can even read a history book, much less a Bible.


Article Comment LogicalThinker commented at 3/24/2010 7:04:00 PM:

*oops, should say "or is this an official organization"

Also, if you were in fact molested as a child, I am very sorry that happened to you. No one, especially a child, ever deserves that kind of pain and sufferring. I simply fail to see the correlation or causality between molestation and homosexaulity.


Article Comment resident commented at 3/24/2010 11:03:00 PM:

It is amazing how people in this state panic over nothing. And then the Bible-thumpers jump into it blubbering on about that which they actually know nothing about, except a preacher who knows even less told them it was so.

No wonder this state is thought to be a joke. It is a joke. And one without a punch line.


Article Comment Will commented at 3/25/2010 12:16:00 AM:

LT, First of all Please accept my apology for calling you a Fool. You not a Fool, you are just as you said "just simply cannot see".
My facts were based on Psychiatrist statements whom have treated People and Children of Sexual abuse! I do not belong to any organization, but it does upset me for People who call themselfs Christains to pass Judgement on others when they themselfs are not in the shoes of the People they are Judging! Judging others is just as Sinful as Homosexuals, Murders, Liers, Theifs. No one is without Sin, The Bible says so. The only person who ever walk this Earth without Sin was Jesus Christ. He Taught and Preached Love and Understanding! The only Judge that matters is God Almighty! He will be the one who will be doing the Jugding of his Children! He is the only ones knows what is in our hearts and the burdens we bear.
I did not say that all Homosexuals were molested, but for myself and most others that I know, that is a FACT! And I can promise you that the scars NEVER HEAL. I pray that you never have to deal with this issue in you Family! I seen alot of people commit suicide because people just failed to see the emotional pain that others were living with! So please be careful what you say, because you may not get the chance to say, "I'm sorry for Judging you", and then have to answer to God for your remarks. no I'm not perfect, but I do Pray for God to Walk with me everyday and he does! And I also Pray for others as well! I pray that God will forgive me for my foolish jester to you!
Yes, my writting skills are not perfect, but I was a "A" student in History! and I thank God to be a American, to have Freedom of Religion, and Speech.
This is my last post on this subject, and I pray for this girl in Fulton and other as well. Again I so sorry. God Bless us all!


Article Comment mom of 4 commented at 3/25/2010 9:23:00 AM:

1- if two male or two females animals (or humans) could reproduce, then homosexuality would be natural. they cannot--nature made all creatures this way. don't have to be a bible thumper to figure that one out.

2- this is a school we're talking about. children, not adults, attend school. they must follow policies set for the for the general good. children will grow up into what they choose, but while they are still children, they must be guided and protected by those who are in administrative positions.


Article Comment zombie:] commented at 5/29/2011 3:44:00 PM:

Ok I'm 15 and I'm a lesbian and its getting me really mad reading some of the comments ok we get it it some how says in the bible that being gay is wrong but in my bible it says "you" shall not lie with a male as you woud with a woman, hey I'm the reader a girl and its saying in my book that I'm on the right track sence I'm not suposed to be with a man as I would with a woman see its just how you take what the bible says to you and for the one I read that said that gays shouldn't go to prom and that parents should let there kids know about gays befor there exposed to it and that not everyone is gay, NOT EVERYONE IS STRAIGHT! And hello they are going to school with those gay lesbian bi trans teens so they know about it and why do you think teens in high school are babies and need their parents to tell them everything? Did you ever think that parents have the wrong information about stuff like this? You could have a homophobic mom or dad tell their kid that "gays are horibal freaks that have no feelings so beat the crap out of them buddie boy"? You people that hate don't understand that the statisticks are true we do get depression faster then straight teens and a lot of gay teens use drugs or acohol I don't I just don't like that stuff tho but I have attempted suicide more than 3 times when I was first relizing I was different and I started geting girlfriends I can remeber being called a faggot becuz I was walking with a girl I liked and I had my arm around her it hurt so much and it was two years ago! I got bullied so bad I'm homeschooled now so please don't make it bad for anyone else


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