The Clarion-Ledger of Mississippi recently reported that Itawamba Agricultural High School (right) in Fulton, Mississippi has canceled its prom because one young woman, Constance McMillen (left), was planning to take her girlfriend as a date. McMillen, who is openly gay, now fears retaliation from her peers. Said McMillen, "Oh, my God. That's really messed up because the message they are sending is that if they have to let gay people go to prom that they are not going to have one," she said. "A bunch of kids at school are really going to hate me for this, so in a way it's really retaliation."
School officials told McMillen last month that she could not bring her sophomore girlfriend to the prom and could not wear a tuxedo. The school then circulated a memo prohibiting same-sex dates. When asked by McMillen and the ACLU to drop its prohibition on same-sex couples, the school canceled the prom and encouraged a private party, where it would be legal to deny McMillen admission.
McMillen has spent her entire life in Fulton, a city of about 4,100 people in the northeast corner of the state. Her grandmother, Dale McMillen, said she supports her.
"I've always tried to teach my children and my grandchildren that if you believe in something you need to stand up for it," she said.
The debate has attracted the attention of the Liberty Counsel, a conservative social policy organization based in Orlando, Fla., which offered the district free legal services to fight for the policy.
"We view this as part of a broader picture," Liberty Counsel attorney Stephen Crampton said. "It's not, sadly enough, about one young lady's desire to bring her date to the prom."
Crampton said attempts to override policies such as the one in Fulton are part of an agenda to force legal recognition of same-sex couples. Crampton noted Mississippi is one of a number of states still with antisodomy laws.
"The district might be motivated by a desire to prevent the ultimate conduct that is presumptively illegal in this state," he said.The school district left her out of the yearbook, but Sturgis' stand attracted national media attention and acclaim among gay rights groups.
What an amazing young woman. This is one of those stories that will make people shudder when they read about it in history books. And by the way, hasn't Stephen Crampton heard of Lawrence v. Texas? That US Supreme Court ruling made anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional in any state.