Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bigotry in Schools is Literally Costly

Remember Constance McMillen?

Her school in Fulton, Mississippi, didn’t allow her to go to prom with her girlfriend. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) offered to help her with a lawsuit, so her school threw a fit and cancelled the prom for everyone.

Well there’s finally good news!

On July 20, the ACLU won their case against Constance’s school. As part of a settlement agreement, the Itawamba Agricultural High School will set up a non-discrimination policy that protects LGBT students, and it will pay Constance $35,000 in addition to her lawyer fees.

It won’t make up for the embarrassment of being sent to a fake prom, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Most importantly, we can only hope that it will allow Constance a way to move forward with her life.

"It means a lot to me," Constance said to CNN. "The amount of support helps me to continue with the fight."

It worth noting that here in North Carolina, our anti-bullying policy protects students from this kind of discrimination. Here’s a concrete example of a situation that could have been avoided with a similar policy in Mississippi. It’s good that they got to anti-discrimination eventually, but it’s always nicer to have it done with state-wide legislation than through litigation.

(Last year, here in North Carolina, Equality NC, together with a strong coalition of organizations and thousands of dedicated supporters across the state, overcame the odds and made history by winning passage of S.B. 526, the School Violence Prevention Act, to provide strong protections against bullying and harassment in schools, with explicit protections for LGBT youth.

This landmark law marks the first time sexual orientation and gender identity are protected in North Carolina law, and the first time gender identity is protected in the any Southern state.

For more information on NC's anti-bullying law, check out our SVPA Implementation Toolkit.)

No comments:

Post a Comment