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ACLU Urges Action on Mississippi's Prom Discrimination Suit

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The ACLU has requested that a federal court act quickly in its lawsuit against the Mississippi high school that canceled its prom in order to prevent Constance McMillen -- an openly gay senior -- from attending. McMillen wanted to wear a tuxedo and bring her girlfriend as a date.

A hearing to determine whether or not the school should be forced to reinstate the dance is scheduled for March 22 -- ten days before the prom’s originally planned date.

According to an ACLU press release, “dozens” of offers to provide funding for another, private celebration have poured in from around the country. In spite of this, McMillen said, an alternate dance would do nothing to address what many perceive to be institutionalized homophobia.

“The prom is important to all of the students at my school, and I never thought the school would try to cancel the prom and hurt everyone just to keep me and my girlfriend from going together,” she said. “A lot of people have made really generous offers to pay for a prom somewhere else, which I really appreciate -- but all I’ve ever wanted was to be able to just go to my own school’s prom with my girlfriend.”

The ACLU has helped create a Facebook page titled, “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom!” At last count, it had 326,214 fans.

Other groups attempting to deny McMillen access to the dance had significantly smaller membership: One called “Constance McMillen Should Not Go to Prom” has 46 fans. Its group statement reads, “It's a shame one confused girl obviously seeking attention she doesn't get at home has to ruin a big noght for so many young people. I think the students of Itawamba County High School should sue the to keep this girl out.”

The Itawamba school board has remained relatively silent since the news first broke. Initially, it cited “distractions to the educational process caused by recent events” as reasons for the cancellation.