Court Rules School Violated Lesbian’s Constitutional Rights in Canceling Prom But Declines To Order Relief

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson has ruled that Itawamba Agricultural High School did violate the constitutional rights of Constance McMillen, 18, in canceling her class prom when she asked to attend with her girlfriend while wearing a tuxedo. However, the court declined to order that the school must hold the prom.

In the 12-page order below, Davidson ruled that “The court finds this expression and communication of her viewpoint is the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment.”

He declined the motion for an injunction to force the holding of the prom, noting “Defendants testified that a parent-sponsored prom, which is open to all IAHS students, has been planned and is scheduled for April 2, 2010. Though the details of the ‘private’ prom are unknown to the court, defendants have made representations, upon which this court relies, that all IAHS students, including the plaintiff, are welcome and encouraged to attend.”

What is astonishing to me is the lesson these teachers have given their students of intolerance and arbitrary uses of power — not to mention homophobia. It will be interesting if anyone is held responsible for such a breach of constitutional rights.

Here is the opinion: Prom opinion

For the full story, click here.

33 thoughts on “Court Rules School Violated Lesbian’s Constitutional Rights in Canceling Prom But Declines To Order Relief”

  1. I just want to say that lesbianism is all about sex. I mean they really get after it. I’m talking seriously about sex. Believe it. As for carpet munching. My sister is not one, I however am a world class carpet muncher. And thereore consider myself an expert on the subject. Not sure what my point was to begin with but I’m glad I got that out there about my carpet munching abilities. I feel somehow relieved and unburdened. Oh I remember, about sisters, yes I have carpet munched other peoples sisters and except or some variance in what I would call saltiness, its all good, Btw if you have a sister who might require the services of an expert, please send her my way, .

  2. Though I haven’t seen it, I am very interested in the complaint filed by the ACLU. It was light on the details regarding the private prom (the judge mentioned that he/she had no knowledge of any details regarding it) and the opinion appears to have seized on that shortcoming.

    First and foremost in my mind, the student was always welcome to attend the school’s prom–just under conditions that infringed upon her First Amendment rights. I highly doubt the student’s embrace of her sexual orientation will be welcome at the private function, though to be sure, I have no way of knowing this, and hope my suspicions are misplaced. Should my suspicions prove correct, though, the court has essentially swapped one bad situation for another. (I think at the very least a fact-finding hearing would have been appropriate to determine the validity of the plaintiff’s “invitation.”)

    As for the Article III prom planning concerns, I doubt anyone in a black robe would have been blowing up balloons, simply throwing the planning back to the school.

  3. AY:

    Damn you for your cold, callous, insensitive and delightfully irreverent personality.

    On the Judge’s decision, I think it was the proper call. I am not sure compelling the school to hold the dance would have accomplished much and I doubt it would have changed any minds. Personally, I would awarded attorney’s fees and damages for humiliation against the school officials and the school district that I would increase each day by 10% until an apology issued or until a class was instituted for school administrators on topics like Constitutional rights and sensitivity to GLBT issues. It’s a school, someone should learn something, and like Buddha says, civics would be a good place to start.

  4. Ay I don’t think you are intolerant at all. Maybe you could use a little “sensitivity training” in this area.

  5. ‘β€œDefendants testified that a parent-sponsored prom, which is open to all IAHS students, has been planned and is scheduled for April 2, 2010.’

    My understanding of this is that the girl was told because it was a private function, she was NOT invited.

  6. Swarthmore Mom,

    I was just speaking from what “my sister” had told me. Maybe she thought that I would get geeked out. As you are aware I am fairly tolerant of others. Its just myself that I am so hard on. No double speak here.

  7. AY I don’t think it necessarily true that it can’t be just about sex in a lesbian relationship. I do not think lesbian relationships are that different from those of gay men or a hetero couple.

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