Victory for Constance McMillen

By Editors

Originally published on July 20 2010 10:50 AM ET

The Mississippi school that chose to cancel prom rather than let Constance McMillen attend with her girlfriend will change its discrimination policy and pay the teen $35,000 in damages.

The Itawamba School District has agreed to update its antidiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation, a first for a school district in Mississippi. The district will also pay McMillen’s court fees and $35,000 in damages.

“I’m so glad this is all over. I won’t ever get my prom back, but it’s worth it if it changes things at my school,” McMillen said in a statement. I hope this means that in the future students at my school will be treated fairly. I know there are students and teachers who want to start a gay-straight alliance club, and they should be able to do that without being treated like I was by the school.”

McMillen became the poster child for gay teens everywhere when she started speaking out publicly about her experiences at Itawamba Agricultural High School — first having her prom canceled and then being directed to a “fake” prom while her classmates partied at another event across town.

The American Civil Liberties Union then filed suit against the Itawamba School District on McMillen’s behalf.