The ACLU has sued a northern Mississippi school board after officials decided to cancel an annual high school prom dance rather than allow a lesbian student attend with her girlfriend.

In a statement released Thursday, the human rights group announced it had filed a challenge in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi against Itawamba County School District.

The district announced Wednesday that it canceled the Itawamba Agricultural High School (IAHS) prom dance for junior and senior students. The decision followed an ACLU of Mississippi demand that a lesbian student be allowed to bring her girlfriend.

“Due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events, the Itawamba County School District has decided to not host a prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School this year,” school board members said.

Constance McMillen, 18, contacted the ACLU after school officials told her she could not attend the dance with her girlfriend, also a student at IAHS, and that if they arrived separately but slow-danced together they might be kicked out. Officials also told McMillen she could not wear a tuxedo to the event.

A February 5 memo addressed to junior and senior students stated a prom date “must be of the opposite sex.”

“Itawamba school officials are trying to turn Constance into the villain who called the whole thing off, and that just isn't what happened. She's fighting for everyone to be able to enjoy the prom,” Kristy Bennett, legal director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement. “The government, and that includes public schools, can't censor someone's free expression just because some other person might not like it.”

The case, Constance McMillen v. Itawamba County School District, et al., asks the court to reinstate the dance for all students and charges that the First Amendment guarantees students' right to bring same-sex dates to school dances.

“All I wanted was the same chance to enjoy my prom night like any other student,” McMillen said. “But my school would rather hurt all students than treat everyone fairly.”

“This isn't just about me and my rights anymore – now I'm fighting for the right of all the students at my school to have our prom,” she added.