Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ACLU Garners Lesbian Teen Spotlight: Judge Ruling

A federal judge has ruled that the Itawamba County [Mississippi] school board violated the rights of a lesbian student by canceling the prom when the student challenged a ban on same-sex dates.

UPDATE 7/21/10: School pays lesbian student $35K, putting every school district in America in a bind

UPDATE 5/20/10: Lesbian teen transfers to different school

UPDATE 4/21/10: Lesbian teen, with ACLU, sues school and administration seeking monetary damages for being humiliated

UPDATE 3/30/10:
Backup (private) Prom also Canceled

-- From "Judge won't force Miss. district to hold prom" by Shelia Byrd, Associated Press 3/23/10

A Mississippi school district violated a lesbian student's rights by banning her from bringing her girlfriend to the prom, a federal judge ruled Tuesday, but he stopped short of forcing the district to hold the event.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson denied an American Civil Liberties Union request for a preliminary injunction that would have forced the Itawamba County school district to sponsor the April 2 prom and allow Constance McMillen to escort her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.

Davidson did say he will hold a trial on the issue later, but he did not set a date and any ruling would likely come too late to force the district to hold the prom when it was originally scheduled.

Davidson said he denied the injunction request because a private prom parents are planning will serve the same purpose as the school prom. He wrote in his ruling that "requiring defendants to step back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue."

[McMillen's] case has become a cause celebre since the school district canceled the prom March 10.

She has appeared on the "The Early Show," "The Wanda Sykes Show" and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to talk about how she is fighting for tolerance. DeGeneres presented her with a $30,000 college scholarship from Tonic, a digital media company. A Facebook page set up by the ACLU for McMillen has over 400,000 fans.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Judge won't force Mississippi school to hold prom" by Chris Joyner, Jackson Clarion Ledger 3/23/10

Both sides pled their case in court Monday, with McMillen’s legal team accusing the district of violating her constitutional right to free expression. School district attorneys countered that the board was attempting to restore order to the school by withdrawing sponsorship of the event.

“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,” Davidson wrote in an opinion published this afternoon.

“The Court finds that requiring Defendants to step back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue,” he wrote.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.