Lesbian Teen Misses Prom, Becomes Gay Rights Activist
Along with graduation, homecoming and rivalry football games, prom is one of those rites of passage that every high-school student hopes to attend. That wasn’t an option for Constance McMillen. Her school canceled prom instead of letting her bring her girlfriend.
McMillen was upfront about her sexual orientation, and, although her high school in Fulton, Miss. hadn’t let same-sex dates to prom in the past, she hoped to make a change. When the school refused to let her bring a same-sex date, McMillen contacted the American Civil Liberties Union and filed suit.
After the school was found to be in violation of the First Amendment, officials responded by first canceling prom and then creating a “fake” prom for McMillen to attend. The rest of her classmates had prom at a concealed location at an event organized by parents.
“It’s wrong for schools to do that; it’s wrong to discriminate,” McMillen told The Associated Press.
Though her stand made her an outcast at her high school, the media has picked up on her story, and McMillen has become a fresh face for gay rights.
McMilllen worked with GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, to help launch the “Prom is for Everyone” campaign to prohibit the same kind of discrimination she experienced.
In addition, in late June, she was one of three grand marshals for New York City’s annual Pride March. McMillen, who plans to study psychology at a college in Memphis, Tenn., received a $30,000 scholarship from Tonic, a digital media company. She has also made several TV appearances on “The Early Show,” “The Wanda Sykes Show” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
McMillen continues to be an advocate for GLSEN, and whether or not the lawsuit has made her famous, she expresses pride in her stand.
“I don’t care if people know who I am,” she told the Associated Press, as long as people know “there was this girl that did stand up.”
Via American Civil Liberties Union and Yahoo News