School who banned lesbian teen from prom ordered to pay $35,000

Constance McMillen, the girl from Mississippi who was banned from her prom for planning to bring a same-sex date, then later “allowed” to go only to be redirected to a fake event while almost all the other students partied at a secret undisclosed location, was awarded a settlement after the ACLU sued the Itawamba school district on her behalf.

While the school agreed as part of the settlement to “follow a nondiscrimination policy,” the district contends that it has been in place all along despite the nationwide attention drawn to the whole “no lesbians at the prom” flap:

McMillen’s lawyers filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court to accept a judgment offer from school district that will pay $35,000, plus attorney’s fees. As part of the agreement, the district also said it would follow a policy not to discriminate based on sexual orientation in any educational or extracurricular activities or allow harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

School officials contend that their agreement to follow the nondiscrimination policy merely reaffirms inclusiveness rules the district already had, said school board attorney Michele Floyd. She said the district’s insurance company will pay McMillen.

McMillen, who eventually sought to finish out her senior year at a school in Jackson, Mississippi, has relocated to Memphis. She says she is attending Southwest Community College, and plans to use the settlement money to pay for her education. Of the incident, McMillen speculated to NPR:

McMillen said she thinks the case resonated with so many people because “prom is a common theme and everyone knows how it feels to want to go to prom. With my story, even if people didn’t agree with being gay, they understood. They figured out how cruel some people can be.”