Despite Court findings that the civil rights of Constance McMillen were violated by the Itawamba School Board, which cancelled the school’s prom in response to Constance’s request to bring her girlfriend as her date, as well as wear a tuxedo, the Judge in the hearing has refused to force the School Board to host the Prom.
Nevertheless, Christine Sun, senior legal counsel with the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project said the ACLU and Constance consider the ruling a victory. “It sets a legal precedent for gay and lesbian students all over the country that they have the right to bring a same-sex date to the prom and also to wear gender-nonconforming clothes to the prom. We were looking for a ruling that what the school did was violate her rights.”
In his *written decision, U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson said:
“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. 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.”
The only aspect of this case that might confuse and confound this and any other community at this point is how can the Judge do everything but call the school board creeps and bigots for violating Constance’s constitutional rights, and then NOT force them to give her the ONLY thing she requested??? So…but wait, it gets better! The Court is going to rely upon statements about the upcoming parent-sponsored event from the representations of the same people who the Judge fully agrees violated the rights of Constance McMillen???
Everything the Judge said up top that point in his ruling said the Mississippi school district had violated McMillen’s constitutional rights of free speech, including the school district’s rather lame excuse for cancelling the prom.
Indeed the Judge said:
“The Court is also of the opinion that the motive behind the School Board’s cancellation of the prom, or withdrawal of their sponsorship, was Constance’s requests and the ACLU’s demand letter sent on her behalf.”
After clearly stating that McMillen had fully met three of the four standards the Court needs to call for an injunction, Judge Davidson said the Court’s failure to grant an injunction does not constitute “a disservice” to the public interest–and his reasoning revolves around the “private” prom the parents of the students have organized, about which no one seems to have any details.
The private parent-sponsored prom, which some parents say might be called a ball instead of a prom, will be held on April 2 in Tupelo, 19 miles away.
Sun said McMillen had not received an invitation. “We haven’t heard anything about this private prom other than what this school district has told us,” she said. “It remains to be seen whether she will be able to attend the private prom.”
Why do we have this sinking feeling that the name change from “prom” to “ball” and the ‘private party’ essence of this upcoming event is suspect? Will the parent sponsors suddenly and miraculously become gracious hosts and hostesses of this event, allowing Constance, in tuxedo, to attend with her girlfriend? Or will the parent sponsors go to great lengths to make attendance by Constance, if they invite her, most uncomfortable? How could this happen….oh let me count the ways. How about a dress code indicator that stipulates “Ladies, Ballgowns, Gentlemen, Tuxedos.”
Or maybe, the parent sponsors, having heard that Constance has turned down her own supporters’ offers to host a prom because she really wanted to attend the one at her own high school, are accurately anticipating that Constance might very well decline the private party invitation. One wonders.
What would YOU do if you were in the same or similar position as Constance?
*Thanks to CNN for providing a link to the transcript of the Court ruling.