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Student Rights

For liberty to be preserved, it must be nurtured in the hearts and minds of young people. The ACLU educates students about the many important rights they have and supports those who exercise their rights. In doing so, we help to prepare the next generation of guardians of liberty.

Has your son or daughter been “emergency expelled” from school for a minor disciplinary infraction that presented no threat? Has a teacher searched all the texts on your phone because you forgot to turn it off during class? Has a friend who’s trying to form a Gay-Straight Alliance at your high school been told that the group is “too controversial” and cannot hold meetings on school grounds?
 

Topic Resources

Published: 
Monday, June 27, 2011
This month, the Richland School Board voted 3 to 2 to exclude Sherman Alexie’s award-winning book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from Richland high school classrooms. Alexie’s semiautobiographical novel won the National Book Award for young adults in 2007. It tells the story of Arnold “Junior” Spirit, a teenager growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington, where Alexie also grew up. Junior struggles as an awkward but bright 14-year-old who loves drawing comics. The book tackles many tough issues, including racism, alcoholism, poverty, death, as well as more typical teenage struggles like fitting in. The book was piloted for Richland’s ninth-grade language arts curriculum because of its realistic portrayal of the high school experience and compelling theme of perseverance. The piloting teacher acknowledged that the book contains some profanity and sexual references.
Published: 
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Some good news from the feds: the U.S. Department of Education has just sent a "dear colleague" letter to school districts in Washington and across the nation reminding them of students' legal right to form gay-straight alliances (GSAs).
Published: 
Monday, June 6, 2011
Last month, a high school in southeastern Washington conducted a suspicionless drug search. Students were asked to leave their classroom so that a police officer with a “drug-detection dog” could check their backpacks for signs of drug possession. After the search, two students were singled out for a more invasive search and questioning. One had marijuana paraphernalia in his backpack; in the other, no signs of drugs or drug paraphernalia could be found. Good news for the second student—after the humiliating and anxiety-producing search was complete, he was permitted to go back to class.
Published: 
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Recently, three Kennewick High School students formed a gay-straight alliance (GSA), the first among all Kennewick schools. They did so in the face of months-long opposition by some members of the Kennewick School Board to recognizing GSAs as non-curricular student clubs. Now, to its credit, the Kennewick School Board has voted 3-2 to give GSAs the same access to school resources enjoyed by other non-curricular student clubs.
Published: 
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
With the proliferation of social networks, Twitter, reality shows, YouTube and blogs, it’s not the easiest thing to get the attention of this media- saturated nation.  High schooler Gaby Rodriguez of Toppenish, WA, has managed to break through with a social experiment for her senior project.  You might have seen Gaby in your local paper or on a major network last week as the “girl who faked being pregnant.”  
Published: 
Friday, April 15, 2011
Many students may not be aware of the extent to which schools are censoring and blocking their access to these sites. The ACLU’s Don’t Filter Me campaign has set up a useful quiz to help you find out if your school is filtering your access to LGBT webpages.  
Published: 
Monday, April 4, 2011
Published: 
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Women's History Month gives us an opportunity to reflect on the great strides women and girls have made toward achieving equal rights and equal treatment. Yet, in some ways we are still stuck in the past — as I was reminded of recently when I had the opportunity to step into classrooms in urban Seattle and hear the stories of pregnant and parenting students who are being pressured to drop out of school. As I stand in front of these young women and share information about their rights under Title IX, jaws drop and hands shoot up with questions.
Published: 
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
At 27 years old, I have experienced devastating breakups, the death of family members, and the loss of a much-loved dog smack during the middle of law school finals. Yet, one of my worst memories comes from an experience I had while attending a Christian high school.
Published: 
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Let’s take truancy out of the top five reasons that girls in Washington state are locked up each year. According to the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee’s 2009 Annual Report, truancy was among the leading reasons for detention of girls. Statistics are not posted yet for 2010. There appears to be some good news in the same chart: in 2006, 2007 and 2008, more than 700 girls were locked up each year for truancy; in 2009, the chart shows “only” 273 were locked up for truancy.  The bad news is that 273 were locked up in 2009 for truancy. And Washington law still allows incarceration as a consequence for kids who miss school without excuse in violation of a court’s order telling them that, as the law says, they have to go to school. Others are locked up if they miss a court hearing in a truancy case.

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