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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: 
Friday, September 30, 2011
It’s the beginning of Fall and that always means … Back to School time! For students, parents, and educators, the ACLU-WA has many resources about rights at public school.
Published: 
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Students in the Kennewick School District are celebrating today because last night the school board restored access to school resources for noncurricular clubs.
Published: 
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
On July 11, the Richland School Board voted 4-1 to bring Sherman Alexie’s young adult novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian back to all its high school classrooms. This welcome action reversed the board’s vote in June to exclude the novel from all high school classrooms after it was piloted for the 9th-grade curriculum.
Published: 
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thinking back to myself at 13 years old, I recall a constant tension between the child I was and the adult I was becoming. Now I try to picture that version of myself being pulled from a classroom and taken to a conference room where two police officers and two school administrators want to question me about a neighborhood robbery. Would I have told officers I preferred they stop questioning me?  Or that I wanted to leave?
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.  

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