Lesbian teen settles Miss. prom case
JACKSON, Miss. — A teenage lesbian who sued her school district over its ban of same-sex prom dates has accepted an offer to settle the case.
The Associated Press reported that American Civil Liberties Union attorneys representing Constance McMillen filed notice Monday in U.S. District Court to accept a judgment offer from the Itawamba County School District to pay $35,000, plus attorney’s fees. As part of the agreement, the school district also said it would follow a policy not to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity in any educational or extracurricular activities.
The ACLU said the case is precedent-setting because the district is the first in Mississippi to implement a policy banning discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“I’m so glad this is all over,” McMillen said in a statement. “I won’t ever get my prom back, but it’s worth if it changes things at my school.”
The ACLU filed a lawsuit in March when the district canceled a prom at Itawamba Agricultural High School after McMillen asked to bring her girlfriend to the event and wear a tuxedo.
Gay rights group gets U.N. accreditation
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Economic & Social Council voted Monday to accredit the U.S.-based International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission after strong lobbying by the Obama administration.
Obama, in a statement issued by the White House, welcomed the vote as an “important step forward for human rights.” With the group’s inclusion, he said “the United Nations is closer to the ideals on which it was founded, and to values of inclusion and equality to which the United States is deeply committed.”
The group will now be able to attend U.N. meetings, submit statements and collaborate with both government and U.N. agencies on human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, commission officials said.
According to the Associated Press, the 54-member council, known as ECOSOC, approved the U.S.-based group’s application for consultative status by a vote of 23-13 with 13 abstentions. Many of those voting “no” — including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia and China — cited procedural reasons.
But the U.S. government and 14 members of Congress who supported the organization’s application said they believe it had not been approved previously because the group promotes gay rights.
The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which has offices in South Africa, Argentina and the Philippines, has been trying since 2007 to get consultative status with ECOSOC, which serves as the main U.N. forum for discussing international economic and social issues.