Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres thanked Constance McMillen – the teen at the center of an ACLU anti-discrimination lawsuit – for standing up for everyone's rights and presented her with a $30,000 college scholarship.

McMillen's Fulton, Mississippi high school decided to cancel its annual prom dance rather than allow McMillen to attend with her girlfriend.

“I admire you so much,” the openly lesbian chat host told her guest Friday on Ellen. “When I was your age I never would have had the strength to do what you are doing.”

The 18-year-old contacted the ACLU of Mississippi after school officials told her she could not attend the dance with her girlfriend, also a student at Itawamba Agricultural High School (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.

With the assistance of the ACLU, McMillen is suing the school board to reinstate the April 2 dance. A hearing is set for Monday.

DeGeneres presented McMillen, who has become an overnight celebrity, with an oversized $30,000 check from the website

Openly lesbian celebrity chef Cat Cora, a Jackson native, has also called McMillen inspiring.

“I was that girl from Mississippi one time,” the Wingfield High School graduate said in a statement. “I hate seeing things that reinforce negative attitudes about Mississippi like this.”

Both and Cora have pledged to help an effort by the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition to host a second-chance prom for students that would include gay and lesbian students.

“This isn't just for [McMillen's] civil rights,” Cora added. “This is for all Americans' civil rights, whether they know it or not.”