Things are getting heated in Mississippi, where the American Civil Liberties Union is suing in the U.S. District Court to force the Itwamba County school district to sponsor a prom they canceled following the request of a lesbian teen who wants to take her girlfriend to prom.
The teen, Constance McMillen, had requested permission to bring another girl to prom and wear a tuxedo in December. McMillen was forced to ask because same-sex dates have been banned in the past.
Schools Superintendent Teresa McNeece and school board Chairman Eddie Hood testified before a judge that the discussion to keep from sponsoring the event had started before McMillen’s request came to their attention, due to liability issues such as alcohol- and drug-use at a school-sponsored event.
They did admit McMillen’s challenging the ban on same-sex dates had caused disruptions at the school and that this had had some bearing on the decision to call off Itawamba Agricultural High School’s prom on April 2.
District officials say their decision to cancel is suitable “after taking into consideration the education, safety and well being of our students.”
ACLU attorney Kristy Bennett disagrees and told the court that the district was violating McMillen’s First Amendment rights and that it was the decision to cancel the prom — not McMillen’s request to bring her girlfriend — that caused the disruption at school.
McMillen herself says the district’s decision has resulted in hostility toward her on campus.
U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson is hearing the case and while he has not specified when he will rule, he has noted how pressing an issue this is. We’ll keep you posted.
Information from WDSU News.