Constance McMillen has agreed to settle
with the Mississippi school district that refused to allow her to
attend her school prom with her girlfriend.
Itawamba County School District
officials have agreed to pay the teen $35,000 in damages plus
attorneys' fees and adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination based
on sexual orientation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
announced Tuesday. School officials, however, did not admit to any
wrongdoing in their offer.
“I'm so glad this is all over,”
McMillen said. “I won't ever get my prom back, but it's worth it
if it changes things at my school.”
“I hope this means that in the future
students at my high 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, with the assistance of the
ACLU, sued the district in March after it decided to cancel the
annual prom dance for junior and senior students rather than allow
McMillen to attend with her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.
U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson
agreed that the school had violated McMillen's rights but refused to
force the school to hold the event.
The ACLU called a plan by parents,
students and school officials to hold a private prom that excluded
“We hope this judgment sends a
message to schools that they cannot get away with discrimination
against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students,” said Bear
Atwood, interim legal director at the Mississippi chapter of the
ACLU. “We're very proud of Constance for standing up not just for
her rights but the rights of LGBT students everywhere.”
McMillen told the AP that she
transferred to another school before graduating in the spring.
The case drew nationwide interest,
turning McMillen into an overnight gay rights celebrity. She was
invited to present an award at this year's GLAAD Media Awards and
served as grand marshal for New York's Gay Pride Parade.