We’ll Show You the Real Prom

By now you’ve probably heard of Constance McMillen. Constance is an 18-year-old from Mississippi who, when she tried to buy tickets for herself and her girlfriend to attend the prom, was promptly told not only that she was forbidden from attending with her girlfriend, but she could not wear a tuxedo. When Constance went to the ACLU—who took her case immediately and sent the school a letter demanding that Constance be allowed to attend the prom with her girlfriend—the school cancelled the prom, rather than allow a lesbian couple to attend.

It’s as absurd and outrageous a homophobic story as we’ve heard in a while. But that was not the end of this saga. When an “alternative” prom organized by her schoolmates’ parents was held this past weekend, Constance and her girlfriend showed up, only to discover that they and five other students—some of whom are differently-abled—were the only ones in attendance. And that the “real” prom was actually being held elsewhere, and the event they were attending was simply a ruse to keep all the so-called “outcasts” away from the “real” prom.

Now that is just beyond the pale. The parents who set Constance up to attend a “fake” prom should be deeply ashamed of themselves. With role models like that, it’s no wonder her classmates have been so cruel. As we all know, it’s Constance who will have the last laugh, however. The ACLU is working hard on their ongoing lawsuit with the school district to ensure justice for Constance. The fight is not over, and I am so glad she is in such capable hands.

When I was Constance’s age, I would never have had the courage she has to stand up for who I was and to demand basic respect and equality. Constance has sparked a remarkable and sustained outpouring of support. Her story and her truth have inspired everyone committed to justice.

When all of us at NCLR first heard about her story, we wanted to do anything we could for her. She didn’t need legal representation—she’s got that taken care of—what she needed was a prom! So I am so pleased to announce that Constance McMillen and her friend Ceara Sturgis will be at NCLR’s 33rd Anniversary Celebration, often referred to as “the lesbian prom.”

“With everything Constance has been through at her school over the past few weeks, we’re grateful for any chance to remind her that while her school violated her rights, she’s appreciated and respected all over the country for her fight to be treated equally. It’s wonderful that our friends at NCLR are giving Constance a fun, special night,” Christine Sun, Senior Attorney, ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & AIDS Project.

If ever there were a prom for her to attend, our event is it—it is attended by nearly 2,000 people of every stripe and walk of life: young and old; lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and straight; differently-abled; and so much more. We’re so glad she can make it, and we know it will be a thrill for everyone to have her there. She will be rightly surrounded by the love and support she deserves. Make no mistake: we plan to give her a weekend she’ll never forget. It will make all these other proms and fake-proms fade into distant memory.


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