Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Constance McMillen to be Grand Marshall of NYC Pride Parade

With Pride coming up in just a couple of months (most cities hold their Pride festivities in June), NYC Pride has just announced that Constance McMillen will be one of the Grand Marshalls of the NYC Pride Parade. For those of you who don’t know, Constance is a high school student from Mississippi who fought back when her high school wouldn’t let her bring her girlfriend to the prom. In fact, the school was so intent of promoting discrimination that it actually canceled the entire prom in order to prevent Constance from bringing her date to the dance.

In order to combat this blatant discrimination by her school, Constance decided to file a lawsuit with the ACLU. That lawsuit has had some mixed results as a federal judge did rule that the school had violated Constance’s first amendment rights, but he didn’t force the school to still have the prom “because of assurances that an alternative ‘private’ prom being planned by parents would be open to all students.” While that would have been somewhat acceptable if all students were indeed invited to attend, it turns out even that wasn’t exactly the entire truth. While there was indeed a private prom that was supposed to help the school avoid the lawsuit, it turns out there was yet another one held in a nearby town. The third prom is where the vast majority of students went, but Constance wasn’t allowed to attend it. In other words, discrimination was allowed to continue.

Nonetheless, there were some good results from the situation as Ellen DeGeneres gave Constance a $30,000 scholarship check and there has now been a significant amount of attention brought to the discrimination that still takes place in some school systems. In order for Constance McMillen’s courage to be truly honored, however, we must take the lessons from this situation and use them to make sure that school systems aren’t allowed to get away with discrimination in the future. That will primarily be accomplished through having discussions with the general public about the topic and having Constance be a grand marshal at the NYC Pride Parade is one small way of making sure the public hears about the discrimination that still takes place in some school systems.

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