Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ACLU Expresses Concern Regarding Violations of Students' Free Speech after the Elections

November 11, 2008

Nsombi Lambright, Executive Director, 601-573-3978, [email protected]
Kristy Bennett, Staff Attorney, 601-540-6642, [email protected]

Jackson, MS- The ACLU of Mississippi has received numerous reports from throughout the state from parents and students regarding prohibitions against speech related to President-elect, Barak (sic) Obama, as well as the election results, generally. The complaints encompass harassment, bullying, intimidation and students being disciplined for saying President Elect Obama’s name or discussing the recent presidential election. The variety of incidents—including an incident in Pearl on Thursday, when two students were forced from a school bus, and the fact that they appear to be arising all over the state are of great concern to the ACLU of MS. As such, we want to remind Mississippians that student speech is protected by the U.S. Constitution. A complete prohibition of political speech violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and will not be tolerated. This election should serve as an opportunity to educate students and encourage tolerance. Speech regarding the President-elect and this historic election should not serve as an antagonist or be used to suppress the political voice of students or teachers. We applaud the appropriate and timely action of the superintendent of the Pearl School District and we encourage other school districts to take similar actions if these situations arise.

We encourage students and parents to contact us if they are subjected to or witness any form of restrictions on speech, discipline or sanctions in response to protected speech activities or any questionable conduct by school administrators, teachers or district employees as a result of students or others discussing political views at school or school related functions. You may call our office at (601) 354-3408, 888-354-ACLU (2258), email us at [email protected] or submit a complaint on our website at