Ellen, Web site give gay teen $30,000 in prom flap

LOS ANGELES Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:21pm EDT

Ellen Degeneres poses with her award for Outstanding Talk Show Host at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California June 20, 2008. REUTERS/Phil McCarten

Ellen Degeneres poses with her award for Outstanding Talk Show Host at the 35th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Kodak theatre in Hollywood, California June 20, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Phil McCarten

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and an inspirational Web site on Friday gave $30,000 toward the college education of a teenage lesbian whose high school prom was canceled when she asked to attend with a girl.

Constance McMillen, 18, of Itawamba County, Mississippi, appeared on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to talk about her experience and at the end of the segment DeGeneres, who is a lesbian, presented her with the check from the Web site, Tonic. (www.tonic.com)

McMillen's story made headlines earlier this month when the Itawamba County school board canceled the high school dance that for many students is a high point of their year.

Back in December, McMillen had asked school officials if she could attend with her girlfriend, and at first they said "no." Later, they changed their position and said the two could go, but not together, nor could they dance or hold hands.

"We could go, but not like as a date," McMillen told DeGeneres. "I was like, I'm not going to go to prom and pretend like I'm not gay, so there's no point in me going."

The prom remains canceled, and the American Civil Liberties Union has sued the school on McMillen's behalf.

McMillen told DeGeneres other kids from her school are angry and blame her for the canceled dance. DeGeneres countered that she thought the 18-year-old was "brave" for speaking out.

"It's always easy to be quiet, especially when you know somebody might tell you 'no' or it's going to cause a scene," said DeGeneres, who is also a judge on "American Idol."

Tonic describes itself on its Web site as being "dedicated to promoting the good that happens each day around the world."

(Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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