crimesider

Constance McMillen, Focus of "Lesbian Prom" Fight, Wins Discrimination Settlement

Constance McMillen (Personal Photo)

Constance McMillen (Personal Photo)

JACKSON, Miss. (CBS/AP) Constance McMillen, the lesbian high school student whose fight to bring her girlfriend to the prom gained national attention, has accepted a monetary settlement in a discrimination lawsuit filed on her behalf by the ACLU.

The Itawamba County School District, which canceled its prom rather than let McMillen attend with a female date, has agreed to pay her $35,000, plus attorney's fees, to end the case.

The district also agreed to follow a non-discrimination policy as part of the settlement, though it argues such a policy was already in place.

McMillen, who's 18, said the victory came at the price of her being shunned in her small hometown of Fulton.

"I knew it was a good cause, but sometimes it really got to me. I knew it would change things for others in the future and I kept going and I kept pushing," McMillen said in an interview Tuesday.

The flap started in March when McMillen challenged the school district's rules banning prom dates of the same gender and allowing only male students to wear tuxedos. When the district responded by canceling its prom, the ACLU filed suit claiming the teen's rights had been violated and demanding the prom be reinstated.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson refused to make school officials hold the prom, but he said in a March 23 ruling that the district had violated McMillen's rights.

"Private" Prom (Personal Photo)
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 partied at a private event elsewhere, a claim the school denied. McMillen's suit also says she's been harassed for her stand against the school's policy.

McMillen's lawyers filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court to accept the judgment offer from the Itawamba County School District.

District officials said in the settlement offer that they didn't believe they violated McMillen's rights.

During the prom flap, McMillen eventually withdrew from Itawamba Agricultural High School and finished her senior year at a school in Jackson, Miss.

She has since has moved to Memphis, Tenn., where she plans to attend Southwest Community College in the spring, majoring in psychology. She said she'll use the settlement money for her college education.

Complete Coverage of the Constance McMillen Case on Crimesider

  • Barry Leibowitz

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.