Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has given a high school girl fighting to attended a school promo with her girlfriend a significant scholarship.

Itawamba County School District officials had forbidden 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 cancel the function.

McMillen appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on Friday where she recounted her story. DeGeneres, who said that she was impressed that the girl was standing up for her rights, presented McMillen with a cheque sponsored by website Tonic.Com for a $30 000 scholarship.

“I admire you so much. When I was your age I never would have had the strength to do what you are doing,” said DeGeneres, who is also openly gay.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of McMillen, is suing the school to ensure that the prom – originally scheduled for April 2 – goes ahead and that the couple are allowed to attend.

McMillen testified on Monday that the cancellation of the prom had led to her being on the receiving end of “many dirty looks”. She added that, “A lot of people didn’t like me very much.”

School officials said that they had cancelled the event because the issue was causing too much disruption in the school. Judge Glen H. Davidson said that he would rule soon on the matter.

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