October 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm EDT | by Staff reports
National news in brief: Oct. 29

School district ordered to pay legal fees for lesbian student

NEW YORK — A federal judge has ordered a Mississippi school district to pay about $81,000 in legal fees and expenses in a lawsuit filed by a lesbian student who was told she would be ejected from a prom if she brought her girlfriend, CNN reported this week.

The decision Tuesday by a federal judge may be the final chapter in the well-publicized legal battle between a lesbian teenager and the Mississippi school district.

The lawsuit against the school district in Fulton, Miss., was filed by the ACLU on behalf of Constance McMillen. The lawsuit was settled in July, and the school district agreed to pay McMillen $35,000 in damages and adopt a policy prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. The July settlement was not part of the $81,000 payment ordered by the judge Tuesday.

The issue made national news after McMillen, the lesbian teen, was told by Itawamba Agricultural High School officials she and her girlfriend would be barred from attending the school-sponsored prom.

The prom was eventually canceled by school board officials.

At the time, support poured in for the teen. She served as the grand marshal for New York’s Gay Pride Parade, got a $30,000 college scholarship from an anonymous donor and a Facebook page called “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom!” attracted more than 400,000 fans. (Photo on homepage is Constance McMillen)

Ark. school board member incites Facebook furor

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A school board member on the board of Midland School District in an area about 85 miles northeast of Little Rock, Ark., shared on his Facebook page that he would only honor spirit day — an event held last week in which LGBT people and their allies wore purple in memory of the recent gay teens who’ve committed suicide — if “they all commit suicide,” according to a Towleroad report.

“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide,” wrote board member Clint McCance. “The only way I’m wearing it for them is if they all commit suicide. I can’t believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves (sic) because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.”

In response to comments on his status update, McCance wrote, “It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags can’t procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die. If you aren’t against it, you might as well be for it … I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid Christian beliefs. See it infects everyone.”

The Midland superintendent of schools and the principal of Midland High School did not return calls seeking comment. A Facebook page has been set up calling for McCance’s removal.

D.C. groups promote 2012 global AIDS conference

WASHINGTON — The leader of a Geneva, Switzerland-based organization sponsoring the 2012 International AIDS Conference, which is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C., joined local AIDS activists at a D.C. reception Tuesday to promote grassroots participation in the conference.

The reception, held at the John Wilson D.C. City Hall Building, was organized by the AIDS 2012 D.C. Community Coalition, which formed recently to encourage local participation in the AIDS conference.

The biennial conference is expected to attract more than 25,000 delegates from as many as 200 countries, including scientists, policy makers, and AIDS activists. More than 2,500 journalists also are expected to attend the event, according to the International AIDS Society, which sponsors the conference.

Elly Katabira of Uganda, chair of the Conference Coordinating Committee and president-elect of the International AIDS Society, welcomed D.C. government officials and AIDS activists attending the Tuesday’s reception. He encouraged the local D.C. area community to take part in what he called one of the most important conferences aimed at developing a solution to the international AIDS crisis.

Also speaking at the reception was Dr. Pierre Vigilance, director of the D.C. Department of Health, and Dr. Nnemdi Kamanu Elias, acting senior director of the D.C. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration.

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