Arizona School Agrees To Lift Rainbow Ban Following ACLU Demands; Gay Student Now Allowed To Wear Wristband
Posted on April 20, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
Quintanilla contacted the ACLU in February after her son Chris’s principal told her he wouldn’t allow her son to wear his cloth wristband with words “Rainbows are gay” to school anymore. Last week, the school finally gave assurances to the ACLU that it would not censor Quintanilla’s wristband in the future.
“Students have a constitutional right to free speech at school, and school officials should be aware of their responsibility for upholding this cornerstone of our freedom,” said Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney for the ACLU national Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project. “This district was right to come to its senses and back down from violating the First Amendment, because students have 40 years of Supreme Court precedent on their side when schools do this kind of thing.”
In its letter, the ACLU reminded PUSD officials about the 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Tinker v. Des Moines in which the Court wrote, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights… at the schoolhouse gate.” The letter also pointed to Gillman v. Holmes County School District, a Florida case in which a high school principal had attempted to ban symbols in support of LGBT rights, including rainbows, at school. In that case, a federal judge ruled last May that the school had violated students’ First Amendment rights. Both cases were handled by the ACLU, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Tinker decision in February.
“The schools we entrust to teach our children about society and their freedoms should know better than to violate one of our most fundamental freedoms,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, Executive Director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We’re glad that PUSD has seen the light about this, but we’re going to be keeping an eye on this district and hold them to their word that they’ll respect the First Amendment from now on.”
The letter the ACLU sent to the district last month is available here:
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