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Constance McMillen And The Fake Prom

April 7, 2010

I’m sure most of my readers know at least the broad outlines of the story. Vanessa already put up the relevant facts.

Briefly, here it is: her Mississippi school barred the lesbian teen from bringing her girlfriend to the prom, and from wearing a tux. She sued, represented by the ACLU. The school realized there were going to lose, and cancelled the prom, so the other kids didn’t catch TEH GHEY. The judge held that the school violated her rights, but refused to order them to hold the prom.

So, a partial victory: she established that she was right and they were wrong.

Here’s where it gets complicated:

She tells the Advocate:

“They had two proms and I was only invited to one of them,” McMillen says. “The one that I went to had seven people there, and everyone went to the other one I wasn’t invited to.”

The school probably wants people to believe that it set up a prom, which was only attended by McMillen and her close friends; and that if there was another one it was private, they didn’t know about it and they didn’t set it up. That has to be their story, but that has the disadvantage of probably being untrue.

From what I’ve gathered, the organizers of the “private” prom deliberately kept the information from Constance McMillen and then announced (falsely) that it was cancelled, when the school authorities rescinded their cancellation, and announced the fake prom that McMillen attended. It would be hard to do that without coordination. Getting a country club, a DJ, catering, decorations, in just a few days? One might infer a setup.

Lawyer-hat brainstorming, and I’ll admit here that I’m asking questions because I have not had the time to research and draw my own conclusions:

(1) Can McMillen pursue contempt? If the judge’s only reason for not making them hold a prom was that there wasn’t time to get it together, does the school’s involvement in setting up two proms, one of which was ostensibly but not really private, place them in violation of the order?

(2) Intentional infliction of emotional distress? I don’t know if it’s a claim under Mississippi law at all, but if it is, wouldn’t this have to be it? Having lost the right to both hold a prom and bar MacMillen from being herself at it, they both held a prom and decoyed the lesbian and her allies away from it? To effectively an empty room? Is that intentional infliction of emotional distress? Unless the state doesn’t recognize the claim or has some very restrictive reading, I’m guessing that could be plead and get to a jury. But that’s a guess.

Lawyer types want to speculate wildly, fantasize about the evil administrators getting what they deserve, or even, however improbably, interject actual facts and law?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2010 1:46 pm

    This girl is a force to be reckoned with! I hope we haven’t heard the last of her.

  2. April 7, 2010 2:07 pm

    I thought that the judge had stopped short of ordering the school to reinstate the prom because the school represented to the court that a group of parents were sponsoring a private prom. Which means that if the school knew about the second prom — and I don’t know why they wouldn’t, considering that there was a lot of activity on Facebook about it a few weeks ago (see La Figa on Firedoglake for some of the postings, as well as photos from the event from public FB pages) — then they’d be in contempt, I would imagine, for violating the order.

    My love for Constance McMillen only grew, however, when I read her statement about the fake prom, to which all the “undesirables” were shunted, including the kids with learning disabilities: she said that those kids had the time of their lives, and that the one good thing that came out of it was that they got to enjoy their prom without anyone making fun of them.

    That kid will go far in life.

    • April 7, 2010 2:29 pm

      She is truly awesome and I suspect that the school has ended up providing direction and motivation to someone who will work against their bigotry for decades to come.

  3. k not K permalink
    April 8, 2010 4:33 am

    Wow, that school is a piece of work. Excluding the students with learning disabilities too really says it all. I can’t believe that parents and the administration would actually enable a bunch of mean-spirited high school kids to exclude anyone who is too “different” for them!

  4. Henry Bowman permalink
    July 2, 2011 7:35 pm

    I want to know what has happened in the past year. ACLU made mouth-noises about pursuing a suit for this deception, but I don’t see anybody walking the walk here.

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