Lesbian Teen Victoriously Settles With School Over Prom Snub

Constance McMillen accepted a settlement from her school for barring her from the prom, and a promise that the school will end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It's a victory not just for gay teens, but teens everywhere.

According to Shelia Byrd of the AP, McMillen and her ACLU lawyers have accepted an offer of $35,000, plus legal fees, from the Itawamba County School District in exchange for dropping their discrimination suit. Perhaps even more importantly, the district has agreed it will no longer discriminate "based on sexual orientation and gender identity in any educational or extracurricular activities" — meaning that gay teens who follow McMillen should be able to actually take their dates to prom. And McMillen has influenced not just her school district but her whole state: Itawamba is the first district in Mississippi to ban discrimination of LGBT kids. In standing up for herself and her rights, McMillen made national headlines, and became a role model for all teens.

When you're in high school, you frequently feel like everyone's against you. Everyone's telling you what to do, and — at least these days — adults spend a lot of time talking about how lost, dissolute, and narcissistic you are. There's some legal precedent for your right to free speech, but given the amount of influence your school has over your life, it can sometimes seem that you have no rights at all. What McMillen has shown is that schools can't trample kids' rights, and that a teen who protests against unfair rules can actually gain the support of much of the country — McMillen was even a grand marshal of the New York City gay pride parade. She definitely belongs on the list of "teenoms" — teenagers who show that kids today are speaking up and standing up, and that being under eighteen doesn't have to mean putting up with adults' ideas of who you should be.

Lesbian Teen Accepts Miss. School District's Offer [AP, via Brattleboro Reformer]