A student in a DeSoto County middle school was expelled after school officials confiscated his cell phone, searched it, and said they had found evidence of “gang-related activity.” The ACLU sued the school district, saying the picture on the phone showed the student dancing in the bathroom in his home. Early in 2010, the school district agreed to settle out of court. In addition to a financial settlement, it agreed to put a list of prohibited gang signs on its website.
In December 2009, Constance McMillen asked her Itawamba County School District if she could bring her girlfriend to the high school prom, despite the ban on same-sex prom dates. The school board refused to allow her to bring a female date to prom or wear a tuxedo, and eventually cancelled the senior prom altogether. McMillen and the ACLU brought the issue to the US District Court, which ruled that the school district violated McMillen’s First Amendment rights. The school district then settled the case by agreeing to include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy, and paying $35,000. However, the district still insisted that it did nothing wrong despite the court’s decision. In the ruling, the judge did not force the school district to hold a prom because there was a private prom being organized. This, however, was cancelled after McMillen attempted to buy tickets to the event. Then, McMillen was notified of a new, official prom that she attended to discover only five other students in attendance, while the rest of her graduating class was at a secret parent-organized prom about 30 miles away.