Lesbian student wins $35,000 settlement over prom dispute

School district agrees to follow nondiscrimination policy

A school district in rural Mississippi has agreed to pay $35,000 to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a lesbian student after it cancelled its prom rather than allow Constance McMillen, 18, to wear a tuxedo and attend the prom with her girlfriend. The school district also agreed to follow a nondiscrimination policy as part of the settlement, though it argues such a policy was already in place. The battle started in March when McMillen challenged the Itawamba County School District’s rules banning prom dates of the same gender and allowing only male students to wear tuxedos. The district responded by canceling its prom. The district later announced parents would sponsor another prom chaperoned by school officials. But ACLU lawyers claimed the event was a “sham prom” attended by only about 10 students, while most of McMillen’s classmates went to a private event elsewhere, a claim the school denied. The school district has also continually maintained that they did not violate McMillen’s rights. McMillen eventually withdrew from Itawamba Agricultural High School and finished her senior year at a school in Jackson, Miss. She has since move to Memphis, Tenn. to attend college in the fall.