Tag Archives: constance mcmillen

Glamour’s gal

Constance McMillen, who challenged her Mississippi school district over a ban against same-sex dates at her prom, is Glamour magazine’s 2010 Woman of the Year. Others to hold that title include Fergie, Julia Roberts, Donatella Versace and Queen Rania of Jordan. The panel that selected McMillen included past honorees Jennifer Lopez and Katie Couric. In a photo on the Glamour website, McMillen wears a tux and a tiara.

In development

ABC Family is working on bringing to TV the story of Constance McMillen and her fight to bring her girlfriend to the high school prom. McMillen, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, won a $35,000 settlement against the Mississippi school district that canceled the school dance rather than allow McMillen to attendå with a same-sex date and in a tux. Too early to say who might be cast to portray McMillen, but this conflict being our modern day “Harper Valley PTA” there’s got to be a role for Barbara Eden.

Judge awards legal fees in US lesbian prom case

JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — A federal judge has ordered a Mississippi school district to pay about $81,000 in legal fees and expenses in a lawsuit filed by a lesbian student whose prom was canceled because she wanted to bring her girlfriend.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson signed the order on Monday.

Constance McMillen and the American Civil Liberties Union had sued the Itawamba County School District in a challenge of the ban on same-sex dates for the school dance.

In response, the school canceled its April 2 prom. Parents sponsored another dance, but McMillen claimed she was tricked into going to a “sham prom” while other students partied elsewhere. Amid the uproar, she finished her senior year at another high school.

Davidson ruled in March that McMillen’s rights were violated.

81K in legal fees awarded in lesbian prom case

A federal judge has ordered a Mississippi school district to pay $81,665 in legal fees and expenses in a lawsuit filed by a lesbian student whose prom was canceled because she wanted to bring her girlfriend to the dance.

Lawyers for the student deemed the ruling a victory, saying it serves as a warning to other school districts that discriminating against gay students can be costly.

Constance McMillen and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Itawamba County School District in March to challenge the ban on same-sex prom dates. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, also challenged a rule that prohibited female students from wearing tuxedos to the prom.

The small, rural school district responded to the suit by canceling Itawamba Agricultural High School’s April 2 prom. Parents sponsored another dance, but McMillen claimed she was tricked into going to a “sham prom” and wasn’t invited to the private dance attended by most students.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson had already ruled that McMillen’s rights were violated. He signed an order Monday calling for the district to pay $67,265.50 in attorney’s fees and $14,400 in expenses.

“We are very satisfied with the amount,” ACLU attorney Christine P. Sun said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “This case was not about the money, but hopefully it will send a message to school districts that it’s not only wrong to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, but there are monetary consequences for doing so.”

McMillen had already been awarded $35,000 in the case. The school district was forced to implement a nondiscrimination policy dealing with gay students.

The legal fees will be split among six lawyers and a paralegal based on the number of hours they worked on the case. The attorneys fees range from $125 to $200 an hour. The paralegal was paid $95 an hour.

The school district’s lawyers had argued in court records that McMillen’s attorneys were seeking excessive fees. The district also asked the court to scrutinize McMillen’s lawyers’ time sheets, alleging they were claiming “excessive, redundant and duplicative hours.”

The court reduced the amount of billable hours that the school district was ordered to pay to by 10 percent to account for “travel time, redundant work and idle time in the courtroom.”

McMillen transferred to another school and graduated. She plans to study psychology at a Tennessee college. She has appeared on television shows and visited the White House as an invited guest after her case received nationwide attention.

Mississippi make-up

Constance McMillen, the Mississippi teen who sued her school district over its policy banning same-sex dates at the high school prom, is due to receive $35,000 from the district for damages and legal costs. School officials had initially refused to settle with McMillen, who won a federal court fight on the issue. The Itawamba School District also will amend its anti-discrimination policy. Yes, such a policy does exist.

Gay pride marchers celebrate with parades

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of marchers and a rainbow of floats filled the streets of New York and other U.S. cities on Sunday as people celebrated gay pride, part of a weekend of events marred by a shooting death Saturday at a street party in San Francisco.

Participants in New York’s annual parade, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. David Paterson, made their way down Fifth Avenue toward the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Throngs of people turned out despite the heat and humidity on Sunday to watch the city’s annual parade.

One of the parade’s grand marshals was Constance McMillen, the lesbian teenager who sued her Mississippi school district over its policy banning same-sex prom dates.

San Francisco’s 40th annual gay pride weekend started Saturday at Civic Center Plaza, where thousands converged as vendors sold barbecue and burritos and DJs spun tunes on a large stage. The party later moved into the city’s Castro District for the “Pink Saturday” street party, where police said a 19-year-old man was killed and two others injured in a shooting late Saturday.

Police were investigating what led to the shooting but Officer Phil Gordon told the San Francisco Chronicle authorities did not believe it was a hate crime.

City leaders said based on the initial investigation they did not believe the violence would cause officials to cancel future gay pride events in the Castro.

A 2006 shooting at Halloween party in the Castro resulted in the halting of all subsequent city-sanctioned Halloween festivities there.

Thousands gathered to watch and participate in the city’s gay pride parade. The Backstreet Boys were due to perform and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, was scheduled to deliver a videotaped address to revelers.

Chicago’s parade included the first-ever float from the Cubs baseball team and an appearance by the Stanley Cup — National Hockey League’s championship trophy.

The Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup title since 1961 this year, and the parade marks the first time the trophy has been on display at a gay-themed event, according to the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Phil Pritchard.

“We are thrilled that it worked out as it’s important for the city and important for the franchise,” Blackhawks spokesman Adam Rogowin said.

Miss. teen to lead NYC Pride Parade

Constance McMillen has big plans for her summer vacation.

The Mississippi teenager who took the Itawamba County School District to federal court in a battle to attend her prom will lead the New York City LGBT Pride parade June 27. Parade organizers made the announcement that McMillen would be grand marshal in late May, as McMillen’s 2009-10 school year was coming to a close.

McMillen, 18, gained national attention as she, with the support of the American Civil Liberties Union, fought for her right to attend the prom with her girlfriend at Itawamba Agricultural High School

The school district had barred same-sex dates from the dance, as well as barred McMillen from wearing a tuxedo.

A federal judge ruled that the district violated McMillen’s First Amendment rights, but the ruling came too late for the official dance, which the district canceled.

Two non-official dances took place for Itawamba students. McMillen knew only of one dance, which she claims was organized as a diversion to keep her from the other party. McMillen and about 10 other students attended a dance at the Fulton County Country Club while most of the other students at Itawamba High attended the other dance.

Represented by the ACLU, she has since filed an official complaint alleging that the district staged a “sham prom.”

In mid-May, McMillen transferred to another high school, one in Jackson, Miss., with plans to graduate June 2, after WiG’s press date for this issue.

McMillen said she faced hostility on the Itawamba campus.

“There was a lot of stuff going on at Itawamba. It was just really hard to do my homework, so I transferred to Jackson to get my diploma,” she told the press. “There’s a large gay community there. All the teachers are very nice and very helpful.”

In the fall, McMillen has plans to go to college, assisted by a $30,000 scholarship award from Ellen DeGeneres.

Have this dance?

A band of celebrities (Green Day, musician Lance Bass and Iron Chef Cat Cora) are helping to pay for a student prom May 8 in Tupelo, Miss. The event also is receiving $20,000 from the American Humanist Organization. The prom queen, no doubt, will be Constance McMillen, a high school senior who challenged her school district’s rule banning same-sex dates at the prom, as well as girls in tuxedos. The school board voted to cancel the prom rather than to allow McMillen to attend, and an alternative prom was poorly attended.

Miss. student to be NYC pride parade grand marshal

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The lesbian teenager from Mississippi who challenged her school district’s ban of same-sex prom dates will serve as grand marshal of the annual gay pride march in New York City.

Organizer Heritage of Pride, Inc., announced Wednesday that Constance McMillen will appear in the parade on June 27.

“I never dreamed so many people would support my fight to take my girlfriend to the prom, much less that I’d end up being asked to be a Grand Marshal at NYC Pride,” McMillen said in a statement. “I’m really honored and touched to be asked to be part of this celebration.”

It commemorates the 1969 Stonewall riots in which patrons at a Greenwich Village gay bar fought back against a police raid. The 18-year-old senior says she’s honored to be part of the celebration.

Her fight has attracted nationwide attention from gay rights advocates and celebrities.

Rock band Green Day is part of an event planned for her in Mississippi next month and she has been invited to the annual “lesbian prom” in San Francisco held by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Lance Bass, others sponsor gay-friendly prom

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) — Green Day, former ‘N Sync member Lance Bass and celebrity chef Cat Cora are among those helping to pay for a gay-friendly prom in Mississippi next month.

Organizers say the event is open to everyone but geared toward gay students.

The American Humanist Association also will contribute $20,000 for the May 8 event in Tupelo.

The annual prom is organized by the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition. This year’s event has drawn attention because of the case of Constance McMillen, a high school senior who challenged her school district’s rule banning same-sex dates at proms.

Coalition spokesman Matthew Sheffield says plans for the event haven’t been completed. He says Bass, who is gay, is among the celebrities expected to attend.