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Mississippi School Board Denies Sham Prom

By Jason Beahm on May 26, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019
Was there a "Sham Prom," or wasn't there? That is the question. Or perhaps the question is: what the heck is a Sham Prom? 

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on behalf of Constance McMillen, a lesbian student from Jackson, Mississippi who wanted to bring another lesbian as a date to her prom. McMillen sued the district over its prohibition of same-sex prom dates. According to the ACLU, instead of allowing McMillen to attend with her date, they cancelled the original prom, then orchestrated an off-site prom for most students and a second fake or "sham prom" for McMillen and less than a dozen other students. 

According to McMillen, she was told that the prom was being held at Fulton Country Club. After arriving, she found less than a dozen people there. Instead, they were partying at Evergreen Community Center. McMillen alleges she was not invited and later saw photos of the prom on the internet. 

"After the court ruled that IAHS acted illegally when it canceled the prom, we hoped that Constance would be able to attend the private prom without further incident," said Christine P. Sun, Senior Counsel with the ACLU, who represents McMillen. "But instead there was a malicious plan to further ostracize and humiliate her. It is hard to conceive of adults behaving in such a cruel way."

It's all part of a bizarre situation that began after the Mississippi school board cancelled its April 2 prom after McMillen attempted to bring her lesbian girlfriend to the prom in a tuxedo. A judge ruled that the district violated McMillen's rights, but did not force the district to hold a prom. It is rare for a judge to force a group to perform an action, such as holding a prom. 

The lawsuit alleges that during a meeting in March with parents, the decision was made to hold separate proms. The school district denies that they decided to hold two proms.

McMillen has transferred to another school and is set to graduate in June.

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