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First Amendment

Judge Rules for Lesbian Teen, But Won’t Force School to Hold Prom

Posted Mar 24, 2010 6:35 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal judge says he won’t force a Mississippi school district to hold a prom, even though it violated a lesbian teen’s First Amendment rights when it canceled the event.

Both sides claimed victory after the ruling, the Clarion Ledger reports.

U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson said clearly established case law supports 18-year-old Constance McMillen’s right to bring a girlfriend to the prom and to wear a tuxedo. But "the court cannot go into the business of planning and overseeing a prom,” he said.

Davidson said a private prom being planned would serve the same purpose as the originally scheduled dance at Itawamba Agricultural High School, according to stories in the Associated Press and the Christian Science Monitor.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “The gay-rights question on whether to allow same-sex dates at school-sponsored proms is becoming as prevalent in the Bible Belt as whether to host racially integrated dances. In the South, schools have often avoided racially integrated dances and constitutional questions by having parents or small businesses sponsor segregated dances.”

Davidson’s ruling “appears to heavily favor McMillen,” the Clarion Ledger says.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "ACLU Sues School District that Canceled Prom Over Lesbian Student’s Date Request"

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