ACLU defends pro-gay Texas students

BY Advocate.com Editors

May 27 2003 11:00 PM ET

A San Antonio high school violated the free speech rights of its students when it shut down a club for showing support for gays and lesbians, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. After the Luther Burbank High School principal forcibly removed stickers from students' clothing during a silent protest to raise awareness of antigay violence, the American Civil Liberties Union on May 27 sent a letter demanding that the school stop censoring teens who took part in the protest. The ACLU also insisted that the school promise not to punish students who take part in such actions in the future. "We're appalled at this school's actions against a group of peaceful, law-abiding students," said Ken Choe, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "The school violated the Amnesty International Club's right to free expression by telling it that it could not sponsor Day of Silence. It then did the same thing to individual students who were peacefully taking part in it."

The school shut down the Amnesty International Club because some of its members had led the protest. The students were participating in National Day of Silence, an annual nationwide student action sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network in which students vow to not speak for an entire day to illustrate the silence in which lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered people often suffer discrimination and violence.

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