Constance McMillen

A Mississippi school is being sued to reinstate its prom after it cancelled the event rather than letting a lesbian couple attend.

Itawamba County School District officials had forbidden student Constance McMillen from attending the prom with her girlfriend and from wearing a tuxedo to the event. When threatened with legal action, the school chose instead to simply cancel the function.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said that it had filed papers with a US District Court to force the school to reinstate the prom for all students.

It also accused the Itawamba County School of violating McMillen’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

“Itawamba school officials are trying to turn Constance into the villain who caused the prom to be cancelled, but that just isn’t what happened. She’s fighting for everyone to be able to enjoy the prom,” said Kristy Bennett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi. “The government, and that includes public schools, can’t censor someone’s free expression just because some other person might not like it.”

The ACLU will ask the court in the next few days to grant McMillen a preliminary injunction ordering the school to reinstate the April 2 prom, let the student and her girlfriend go to the prom together and to allow McMillen to wear a tuxedo to the event.

“It’s shameful and cowardly of the school district to have cancelled the prom and to try to blame Constance, who’s only standing up for herself. We will fight tooth and nail for the prom to be reinstated for all students,” said Christine P. Sun, Senior Counsel with the ACLU national LGBT Project, who represents McMillen along with the ACLU of Mississippi.

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