ABERDEEN, Miss. – The private prom promised to students at Itawamba Agricultural High School has been canceled, and another one apparently has been hastily arranged for Friday. So it appears that lesbian student Constance McMillen and her girlfriend will be sharing a dance after all.
USA Today quoted Lori Byrd, a member of the parent committee organizing the private prom, as saying that the private prom planned at the Tupelo Furniture Mart was canceled because the panel had adopted the same rules as the school district – meaning that same-sex couples were not welcome. That group feared a lawsuit and was refunding deposits to students on Tuesday, the Clarion Ledger reported on its Web site.
Yet another parent group has organized a private prom at the country club, according to multiple news sources. Fulton Country Club manager Stanley Ramey has confirmed that the school dance will be held there Friday night.
School board attorney Michele Floyd told local newspapers that same-sex dates would be allowed at the prom at the country club. And CBS News is reporting that Constance and her girlfriend will be attending that dance. There is no confirmation of that on the Facebook page “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom!” that was set up by the ACLU Foundation on Constance's behalf.
Meanwhile, the lesbian teens are invited to an all-inclusive dance planned in Mississippi.
San Diego-based Empowering Spirits Foundation and the Safe Schools Coalition of Mississippi are sponsoring the May 8 prom in Fulton, Miss., that will be open to all students regardless of sexual orientation.
“Constance has been the subject of ridicule by her fellow students. Though support has come in from all over the nation, including offers to host proms in New Orleans and Atlanta, we have a real opportunity to influence the very community in which the intolerance first occurred,” said A. Latham Staples, president and CEO of the foundation. “Through the all-inclusive prom we are sending a message that diversity and individuality enrich Fulton, Miss., and the rest of the country.”
Constance and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Itawamba County school district when it canceled the school-sponsored prom after denying the teenager from bringing her girlfriend to the dance and wearing a tuxedo instead of an evening gown.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson ruled that Constance’s constitutional rights were violated in the case – a decision that potentially could favorably impact LGBT students nationwide. However, Davidson denied a motion for a preliminary injunction to force the school to hold the prom, largely because parents had organized a private dance instead and district officials had testified that Constance and her girlfriend were invited to that event.