Constance McMillen Is an Amazing Teen

Constance McMillen Is an Amazing Teen

Constance McMillen Is an Amazing Teen

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
March 17 2010 12:27 PM

Constance McMillen Is an Amazing Teen

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I don’t have much interest in Reille Hunter. I am, however, quite interested in the story of Constance McMillen, the out, lesbian high-school senior from Fulton, Miss., who wanted to take her girlfriend to the prom. When her school got wind of her plans, they forbade her to attend. She called the ACLU, which then contacted her school. At this point, the school said the whole thing was such a distraction that they would cancel the prom altogether but are encouraging private citizens to hold their own prom, because as a government entity, the school can’t legally discriminate, but private citizens can. The school system itself is the one who blew the whole thing up into such a distraction in the first place.

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A groundswell of support is rising around McMillen. Dan Savage discussed her plight on his sex-advice podcast, where he also offers contact information for the principal and superintendent of the Fulton school system, and a fan group appeared on Facebook called, "Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom!"

Constance McMillen is an incredibly admirable person. To be out as a lesbian in high school is an amazing feat. The fact that her high school is not in a progressive city but a clearly backward-thinking town in rural Mississippi makes it all the more impressive. To be secure enough to have a girlfriend and be public about it enough to want to take her to the prom is another incredible accomplishment. But what I find most impressive about McMillen is that instead of being intimidated by the adults she is supposed to obey, she had the guts to call the ACLU when her rights were violated. Good for her.

Ellen Tarlin is a former Slate copy chief and writer of the "Clean Plate" blog. Her essays have appeared in the Boston Globe, the Boston PhoenixBrooklyn Bridge, Bark, and  the RISK storytelling podcast. Follow her on Twitter.