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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? Know your rights and where to get help!
 
The school discipline conversation is catching on
ACLU of Washington Lawsuit: Stop pushing special education students out of schools
State Supreme Court rules against student drug testing

Resources

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: 
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.
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

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