Victory for Constance McMillen!

Itawamba County School District officials agreed yesterday to have a judgment entered against them in Constance McMillen’s case. The school district first cancelled prom rather than have Constance, a lesbian, attend and then shewas sent to a fake prom.
From the ACLU, who brought the suit against the school district:

After getting an initial ruling from the federal judge that the school district had violated Constance’s free speech rights, we pressed ahead with the lawsuit. And yesterday, the school agreed to have judgment entered against it. This isn’t just a settlement, it means that the district is held liable for violating Constance’s rights — in other words: they caved.
The school will adopt a comprehensive nondiscrimination and nonharassment policy that covers sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, which is the first such policy in any public school in Mississippi. And they’ll pay Constance $35,000 in damages (more than the median annual household income in Fulton, Miss.) and cover her attorneys’ fees. All in all, a great resolution both for Constance and for LGBT youth in Mississippi.

Constance recorded this thank you to her supporters:

Transcript after the jump.
It’s completely bullshit that Constance ever went through such cruel discrimination. But what she’s done with this opportunity for activism, and the incredible support she’s gotten from so many people, has been really beautiful to watch. Congratulations Constance, and thank you for turning such a horrible experience into an opportunity to make real change!

Constance McMillen: I just want to thank everybody so much for all the support. I appreciate it so much because I never thought in a thousand billion years there would be that many people who are supporting something that I was doing. And I think it’s great that there’s that many people out there that understand the difference between wrong and right. And I just want to say that I think you should stand up for what you believe in, stand up for who you are, and that’s just the message that I’m trying to send people.

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  1. dogsmycopilot
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    This is great for her, she deserves it after what they put her through. However, if anyone thinks that anything will change for gay and lesbian teens in Mississippi they are naive indeed. The bad attitude to anyone different is so pervasive here at this point these people consider 35K fines the cost to be the boss. If they didn’t they would not have caved. Youth groups here are overwhelmingly church-oriented which means almost nowhere is it safe to be gay and out. If they really wanted a resolution that would help all the LGBT youth here they need to address the lack of facilities and attitudes of all the schools- not just one in Fulton. I feel the ACLU etc, really let Mississippi off the hook too soon, here.

  2. blacksouth
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    What else could the ACLU have done? I’m pretty sure school youth groups aren’t required by law, and even if they wanted a resolution, what are they supposed to do? Go to all the schools in Mississippi and get them to sign on when they have absolutely no reason (in their view) to do so?
    Great job, Constance, and the ACLU. Though I doubt the residents of Fulton will have learnt anything. Still, the next gay kid that goes through that school should have a better ground to make a stand on in case Itawamba decides to get stupid again.

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