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Monday, March 22, 2010

Ellen Arranges $30,000 Scholarship for Gay Teen in Small-Town Prom Flap


Two things we know about Ellen DeGeneres: She's gay and she loves to dance.

So when she heard about Mississippi teen Constance McMillen, whose senior prom was canceled after she caused a stir by planning to wear a tux and go with another girl, DeGeneres took action.

During an appearance on Ellen Friday, McMillen was presented with a $30,000 scholarship from, which also offered the 18-year-old an internship this summer.

"It's always easy to be quiet," DeGeneres told her. "Especially when you know that somebody might tell you no or it's going to cause a scene. I love that you're not trying to do anything other than go to prom. That's what everyone deserves to do. Go to prom, it's a big deal."

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit against Itawamba County School District officials for their allegedly discriminatory actions. The school board has maintained that it canceled the April 2 prom because the controversy was distracting McMillen's fellow students from their education.

McMillen admitted that she's been having a rough time at school in the wake of all the drama.

"My friends and stuff, there are a few people that are still supportive and everything, but the majority of people are angry because I guess they feel like I'm the one that caused prom to get canceled," she told DeGeneres.

The talk-show host has offered to organize a replacement prom for Itawamba Agricultural High School, as have dozens of other groups and individuals sympathetic to McMillen's cause, but the graduating senior has remained firm.

"I just want to go and be able to be myself, go to the prom that I was supposed to have since I've never known what prom was," she said.

And DeGeneres is also one of many who's hoping that the school board changes its mind.

"I just admire you so much," she told McMillen, "because when I was your age I never would have had the strength to do what you're doing. And you're clearly a very shy girl, so just being yourself and doing what's right, you're going to make a lot of change. You really will."

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