Student Rights Icon

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: 
Thursday, December 9, 2010
The first and most basic step every school district must take to address harassment and bullying is to adopt strong, clear anti-harassment and anti-bullying policies and procedures.  While many school districts have such policies (somewhere), too often they are outdated, confusing, underutilized, or unknown to the general school community.  That will hopefully change now, with the December 8th publication of the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) new Model Anti-Harassment and Bullying Policy and Procedures.   
News Release, Published: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A student who endured severe harassment by other students throughout junior high and high school is suing the Aberdeen School District for failing to take steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment. The district's failure to act created a hostile educational environment for the student, says the ACLU-WA, which is representing him.

Published: 
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
The ACLU-WA applauds the efforts of two eastern Washington school districts that have taken important strides toward implementing comprehensive sex education. We’ve been working together with the Central Valley and Clarkston school districts to align their sex education curricula with the requirements of Washington’s Healthy Youth Act. Both districts have confirmed they are removing from their curricula materials that, among other things, provide medically inaccurate information, promote gender stereotypes, and show a bias against LGBT students. Removing such materials will help ensure that students acquire knowledge needed to protect their health and build healthy relationships. The ACLU-WA urges other school districts to review their curricula to make sure they follow the Healthy Youth Act’s requirements for being medically and scientifically accurate and free of bias.
Published: 
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
For some students, playing on a sports team can make the difference between success and failure in school. It can be the one thing that keeps them coming to school each day, motivates them to keep their grades up, or connects them to a caring adult in the building. So, when a school cuts sports opportunities for any of its students, it’s unfortunate. When a school cuts opportunities for students who are already underrepresented in sports and activities, or otherwise disadvantaged, the consequences can be significant and it can raise potential civil rights issues. Read more
Published: 
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Schools must protect students from harassment, and if they don’t, the federal government will have something to say about it.  That was the message sent by the White House and the Department of Education on October 26th when they issued new guidance designed to make clear that schools have a legal duty to protect students from harassment under existing federal civil rights statutes. Read more
Published: 
Monday, October 25, 2010
When teens get pregnant, most drop out of school. When they drop out of school, they likely face a life of economic insecurity. And the role that discrimination plays in their decisions to drop out raises serious civil rights concerns. Read more
Published: 
Friday, October 22, 2010
Fall is a heavy season for truancy courts. Truancy court is a place where the school and the court systems converge. In truancy proceedings, it’s important to safeguard both the due process rights of youth and their best educational interests. Read more
Published: 
Monday, October 18, 2010
A recent story about a college party in tiny Roslyn, WA, in which nine people were taken to the hospital for possible overdoses, has received national media attention.  It’s alleged that drinks at the party were spiked with drugs (possibly Rohypnol, aka “roofies”), although authorities are still awaiting toxicology reports. If students were indeed drugged without consent, let’s hope law enforcement catches up with those responsible. However, a less talked about and equally disturbing aspect of the story is that “not one person chose to call 911." This is unfortunate on several levels, but most glaringly because Washington state recently enacted a law specifically designed to deal with this type of situation. The 911 Good Samaritan law works as follows: If you think you’re witnessing a drug overdose and seek medical help, you will receive immunity from criminal charges of drug possession.  The overdose victim you’re helping is protected, too. Calling 911 is always the right response.
News Release, Published: 
Monday, August 30, 2010

The ACLU of Washington has told the Oak Harbor School Board that a proposed policy for searching student cell phones goes too far. It violates privacy to allow school administrators to search student cell phones without the permission of students or their parents.

Pages