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This is important- I want all LGBT persons to have rights (well, we do, we’re just being denied them), but the policies and such created to protect us from violence and threats ect. should not deny other’s right to free speech at the same time. I’m glad the ACLU brought the first case to court, and now this one too. Even though I do not agree with the religious group involved at all, they have rights too! (Unfortunatly..;) )
ACLU Tells Federal Court It Can Protect Both Gay Students and Free Speech (7/25/2007)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CINCINNATI – The American Civil Liberties Union today told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that a school policy designed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students from harassment went too far in squelching the right of some religious students to express their views on homosexuality. The group insists, however, that schools can protect students from anti-gay harassment constitutionally.
“We’ve always believed that it’s entirely possible for schools to enact policies that keep gay and lesbian students safe while still respecting the First Amendment rights of students who hold anti-gay beliefs, said Sharon McGowan, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s national Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “There’s a huge difference between telling students that they shouldn’t harass or attack others and censorship. Schools have a constitutional obligation to respect all students’ right to be and express themselves.”
The anti-harassment policy was implemented as part of the settlement in a lawsuit the ACLU brought on behalf of Fugett and several other students who were prevented from forming a GSA club at the Ashland, Kentucky high school. The school district agreed to implement a training and policy in 2004 after a federal judge found that there was a widespread problem with anti-gay harassment in the school, including one incident in which students in an English class stated that they needed to “take all the fucking faggots out in the back woods and kill them.”
Present at the courthouse were three of the students who first requested to form a gay-straight alliance club to counter rampant anti-gay harassment at the school in March of 2002. “We wanted to be here for the hearing because we want to remind people what this whole thing is all about,” said Libby Fugett, a former Boyd County High School GSA founding member who is now a college sophomore with plans to attend law school. “Harassment against gay students and their friends is a huge problem at Boyd County High School, and we want the court to remember that all students need to feel safe at school.”
Morrison v. Boyd County Board of Education was brought in 2005 by an anti-gay legal organization, which claimed that the training and policy violated the religious freedom and free speech rights of students who are opposed to it. The ACLU, representing former student plaintiffs in its original case, joined the lawsuit to help defend the school’s ability to conduct the training and to support all students’ free speech rights.
Some parts of the case have already been resolved, with school officials altering the training and policy to better protect students’ First Amendment rights. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit now must consider only whether the original anti-harassment policy went too far. While the ACLU agrees that the original policy overstepped students’ First Amendment protections, the ACLU is asking the court to find that it is possible for the school to adopt an anti-harassment policy that also protects students’ right to free speech.
The case is Timothy Allen Morrison, II, et al., v. Board of Education of Boyd County, Kentucky. The former GSA students are represented by Sharon McGowan and Ken Choe of the ACLU’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, and David Friedman and Bill Sharp of the ACLU of Kentucky.
Joseph Frederick was suspended in 2002 for displaying a sign saying “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” at a rally for the Olympic torch relay. The rally was an off-campus event not sponsored by Frederick’s school. A federal appeals court agreed with the ACLU that the school had violated Frederick’s right to free speech. The Supreme Court heard the case during the 2006 term and ruled that Alaska public school officials did not violate Joseph Frederick’s free speech rights by punishing him. In a criticism of the decision, Steven R. Shapiro said, “The Court’s ruling imposes new restrictions on student speech rights and creates a drug exception to the First Amendment.” [Emphasis added]
The Supreme Court’s ruling is also a judgment on whether Tinker v. Des Moines, the test for virtually all student speech cases since 1969, remains good law. In Tinker, the Supreme Court said that young people do not “shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate,” ruling that students have the right to free speech at school, as long as their speech does not disrupt the educational process.
I currently hate our Supreme Court justices. At least about this decision. It makes me soo mad! The schools now legally, have power over their students ALL THE TIME?!
Rant 1-My school tried to foist a “code of conduct” contract on me, saying that my actions outside of school effected what I was able to do in school. It was something like, if you have a run-in with the law then you get kicked out of any extra-curricular activities. They were WAY over-extending their jurisdiction by creating those rules/that document. There were some other rules along with it, but the extra-curricular rule is the one that sticks out in my mind (Dazed and Confused anyone??). They hustled the WHOLE school into the auditorium, and stressed over and over how easy it was to sign this thing, and that we would only have to sign it once, and it would last all (+/-) 4 years of school. They kept harping on how this was so easy, since everyone already follows the rules anyway (riiiight). Sneaky little school officals. Signing away our few rights that were left was required, but since people were just passing it in and no one was checking it, I signed Seymour Butts, and went on with my day. I was never hauled in and never saw/heard of my, or anyone else’s “contracts” again.
Rant 2- My school also requires that each student purchases a student planner, because they had ordered “just enough” and need to “break even” (really, they wanted to make more profit). If you chose not to buy a planner (like me!), then you were sent to the office everyday (after the first week of school) to miss first period (just like being late +5 times total). This continues until you hand over the three dollars they demand. And it’s not that three dollars makes a huge dent in my wallet (well, actually it is..), but it’s the fact that they REQUIRE you to buy one, is utterly ridiculous. I think they do that for the money, and also they have this system of passes, you have to sign in and out every time you leave a classroom, and they have to sign your agenda. They can only sign these certain pages that come with the agenda you purchase. I told the office attendants repeatedly, that I was perfectly fine with not going to the bathroom/water/nurse/office during class time, but they said no, you have to buy one. Whatever. I bought one and promptly recycled it right in front of the secretary I bought it from.
Rant 3- My princepal. I can’t stand him. He discriminates. More on that later. I’m in too good a mood to go into detail about that… >:O
Talk about infringement of freeh speech! True, students do have restrictions on their free speech ect., however it is infringed upon and denied every day, and that’s not right. According to ACLU.org‘s Ask Sybil Liberty About Your Right to Free Expression section, you, students, can “express your opinions orally and in writing – in leaflets or on buttons, armbands or T-shirts”, as established by Tinker vs. Des Moines.
NYCLU Says School District Cannot Suspend Students Who Fought Censorship by Reciting Vagina Monologues (3/13/2007)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK – The New York Civil Liberties Union today expressed its strong support for three Westchester public high school students who were suspended for saying the word “vagina” during their performance last week of a passage from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.
“It is shocking that school administrators would object to the public performance of a renowned literary work simply because it contained the word ‘vagina,'” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “Schools should be encouraging students to express themselves freely, not silencing dialogue.”
In a letter to the Katonah-Lewisboro School District, the NYCLU urged the school to rescind its suspensions of the students.
School administrators reportedly had given the students the “choice” of performing the monologue without saying the word “vagina,” or not performing it at all. The students chose to perform the monologue as written, using the word in question. They are now being threatened with one-day suspensions. The suspensions have been put on hold in light of the controversy that has erupted.
The NYCLU’s letter asks the school district to lift the sentences of suspension for the young women. The letter points out that allowing the suspensions to go into effect would raise serious First Amendment concerns. According to the NYCLU, schools have the right to prohibit vulgar or lewd speech, but the passage in question was neither vulgar nor lewd.
The letter also points out that the defense raised by school officials – that the students were suspended for insubordination because they had agreed not to say the prohibited word – was invalid because the school had no right to censor the young women’s speech in the first place.
“To act like saying ‘vagina’ publicly is in some way insubordination only reinforces the same negative reactions that The Vagina Monologues aims to counter,” said Galen Sherwin, Acting Director of the NYCLU’s Reproductive Rights Project. “These young women should be applauded for their courage and self-possession, not disciplined for insubordination.”
The NYCLU’s letter is online at: www.aclu.org/freespeech/youth/29016lgl20070313.html