UPDATE: ACLU vs. Falcon High School

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Apparently, Falcon High can dish it better than they can take it.

While the school administration was fine with forcing a teen to remove a T-shirt supporting gay marriage — even going so far as to compare it to clothing that promoted drug and alcohol use — the administrators buckled quickly when the big boys came after them.

After being threatened with a lawsuit from the ACLU, Falcon High quickly agreed to let the student wear her shirt. The Denver Post reports it here: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16632311 .


——- ORIGINAL POST, 2:15 p.m., TUESDAY ——-

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The American Civil Liberties Union is back in town, and this time it's going after Falcon High School.

The ACLU says the school violated a student's First Amendment rights to free speech when administrators forced her to remove a T-shirt that supported gay marriage. Administrators allegedly compared the T-shirt's message to one that would promote drug or alcohol use.

On the bright side, it looks like D-49 will get a free lesson on our Bill of Rights, courtesy of the American court system. Which means that if D-49 can't set an example in treating people equally, it can at least demonstrate what it means to be a "lifelong learner."

ACLU Demands Colorado Springs Area High School Rescind Its Prohibition against Apparel Promoting LGBT Equality

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2010
CONTACT: Rebecca T. Wallace, ACLU Staff Attorney, 303-777-5482 ext 104


In a letter to school administrators sent yesterday, the ACLU demanded that Falcon High School rescind its prohibition against a student wearing a t-shirt that reads: “marriage is so gay.” Kate Cohn, a senior at Falcon High School, just east of Colorado Springs, wore the t-shirt to school on Election Day, November 2, 2010. Although her shirt caused no disturbance amongst students during her first class that morning, Falcon High School Principal Mark Carara viewed the shirt and immediately told Kate that she had to change it because it was offensive and violated the school’s dress code banning apparel that is potentially disruptive to the academic environment. Later in the day, while speaking with Kate’s parents, Principal Carara explained his ban of Kate’s t-shirt by comparing the shirt to apparel that promotes drug or alcohol use. Administrators at District 49 have publicly ratified Principal Carara’s decision to ban Kate’ shirt.

“This is censorship plain and simple,” said Rebecca T. Wallace, Staff Attorney for the ACLU. “Falcon High School administrators are censoring Kate Cohn’s message of equality simply because they did not like what she has to say, but the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees students like Kate Cohn the right to peacefully and quietly display their political message, even when that message is unpopular. This is particularly true when there is no evidence that Kate’s shirt caused or was likely to cause a disturbance within the school.”

While the message on Kate’s t-shirt elicited little response from students, the school’s silencing of Kate’s speech has caused quite a disruption. In a recent protest at school, several students donned sticky notes over their heart stating: “I support Kate Cohn” or “I do not support gay marriage, but I support Kate Cohn.” Additionally, 81 students have signed a letter protesting the school’s silencing of Kate’s message.

According to the ACLU’s letter, Kate wore the “marriage is so gay” t-shirt to make a silent, peaceful, political statement in support of the rights of gays and lesbians to marry. “Every day that passes during which Falcon High School forbids Kate to speak on this issue of great political import that rests close to her heart, Kate suffers a significant loss of her First Amendment freedoms,” explains Wallace. The ACLU has demanded that Falcon High School rescind its ban of Kate’s message by the end of this week.

To read the letter and see a photo of Kate wearing the t-shirt, visit:
http://aclu-co.org/case/aclu-demands-colorado-springs-area-high-school-rescind-its-prohibition-against-apparel-promotin

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