Fortunately for the 1st Amendment, the Itawamba County School Board lacks the authority to cancel the New York Times:

A Mississippi school board was grossly discriminatory and mean-spirited when it told Constance McMillen that she could not attend her high school prom with her girlfriend. A ruling by a federal judge that Ms. McMillen’s constitutional rights had been violated is a welcome sign that gay people are continuing to make progress toward equality. It should also be a warning to school districts nationwide about the cost of discrimination.

Ms. McMillen, a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School, has identified herself as a lesbian since the eighth grade. After the school learned that she was planning to take her girlfriend to the prom, it told her that the two could attend alone or with male dates but not as a couple. When Ms. McMillen asked if she could wear a tuxedo, she was told that she would have to wear a dress. The American Civil Liberties Union wrote a letter protesting those decisions and the district responded by canceling the prom. It was a move that called to mind the school districts across the South that canceled their proms during the civil rights era rather than open them to black and white students on an equal basis. The A.C.L.U. sued on Ms. McMillen’s behalf.


Judge Davidson did not order the school to restore the prom because parents are expected to hold one that Ms. McMillen and her girlfriend will be able to attend. As a result of the ruling, the school district may be liable for damages for violating Ms. McMillen’s rights, and for attorneys’ fees. The school’s treatment of Ms. McMillen was horrible, but she and gay and lesbian students everywhere have emerged from this battle as the clear winners.