Today, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California released a digital resource to provide students with tools and knowledge to challenge violations of their free speech rights successfully, on and off-campus. California schools have notoriously censored Black students who support racial justice, the Black Lives Matter movement, and other social justice matters. Examples include prohibiting the display of memorial posters to honor George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s lives and destroying student artwork that affirms that Black Lives Matter.
In California and across the country, there is a statistically verified pattern of discrimination against Black students by teachers and administrators. This resource provides students and parents with clear information about their rights and methods they can employ to confront efforts to thwart their self-expression. It also includes examples of cases in which students waged successful challenges to such abuse. The ACLU has intervened in school districts across California, including Fresno Unified, Visalia Unified, Eureka Unified, and Alameda Unified, for creating a racially hostile climate for Black students.
The First Amendment protects students’ right to speak out, organize, protest, and wear clothing that expresses their identity and values while at school. Unequivocally included in these protections is a student’s right to speak out against anti-Black racism, police brutality against Black people, and the structural inequities that affect Black students in the classroom.
“At a time when Black families are navigating the upheaval caused by the pandemic and fighting for the dignity and affirmation of their humanity in the face of pervasive, systemic racism, schools must take responsibility for their historic role in perpetuating racial inequities,” said Brandon Greene, Racial and Economic Justice Director at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California.
“Schools can start by taking proactive measures to ensure that Black students’ self-expression is supported and validated, as they express and assert their free speech rights,” said Greene. “This tool is intended to empower and protect students so that they can continue to speak up for meaningful issues.”
View resource here.