From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Constance McMillen long looked forward to her senior prom and, like many girls at Itawamba Agricultural High, had pictured her outfit. "I decided to wear a tux, because I'm not comfortable in a dress," says Constance, 18, who has been out as a lesbian since the eighth grade. Because she wanted to bring her girlfriend, Constance asked to overturn a Fulton, Miss., school board rule that states prom dates must be of opposite gender. When the answer was no, she enlisted the help of the ACLU. The board, calling the flap a distraction "to the educational process," then nixed the prom altogether. Says ACLU attorney Christine Sun: "It's unfortunate that the school district has bashed the dreams of all these students."

While a few classmates support Constance ("They understood it wasn't my fault; it was the school's fault," she says), most blame her. "You've ruined my senior year," charged one in a text. Says Shea Moore, stuck with a $450 pink dress: "It's great to stand up for what you believe in. But when it affects many more negatively, it's time to back down." Constance, a straight-A student, won't back down, though she wishes the outcome were different. "I wasn't trying to make it to where everyone couldn't go. I was trying to make it to where everyone could."