LEXINGTON, Ky. – A teenager is suing her school district for barring her from the prom last spring because she was wearing a dress styled as a large Confederate battle flag.
The lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court claims the Greenup County (search) district and administrators violated Jacqueline Duty's (search) First Amendment right to free speech and her right to celebrate her heritage at predominantly white Russell High School's (search) prom May 1. She also is suing for defamation, false imprisonment and assault.
"Her only dance for her senior prom was on the sidewalk to a song playing on the radio," said her lawyer, Earl-Ray Neal.
Duty, 19, is seeking actual and punitive damages in excess of $50,000.
She said she worked on the design for the dress for four years, though she acknowledged that some might find the Confederate flag offensive.
"Everyone has their own opinion. But that's not mine," she told reporters outside the courthouse. "I'm proud of where I came from and my background."
Duty, now a college student, said school officials told her before the prom not to wear the dress, but she didn't have another one and decided to see if administrators would change their minds.
According to her lawsuit, she was met outside by two police officers and principal Sean Howard. She said the principal intimidated her by striking the vehicle she was in.
School offices were closed Wednesday. Superintendent Ronnie Back did not immediately respond to a call to his home seeking comment.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans (search) has promised to help pay some of her legal expenses.