ACLU Tells AZ School District That Gay Wristband Ban Violates Gay Student’s First Amendment Rights
March 19, 2009
From the ACLU: After a school principal in Peoria, AZ told a gay 14-year-old student to turn his rainbow wristband inside-out or stop wearing it to school, the American Civil Liberties Union today demanded this week that the school district rescind its ban of the wristband. In a letter (PDF) sent to Peoria Unified School District, the ACLU said that the principal’s demand violates Chris Quintanilla’s constitutional rights, pointing to a 40-year-old landmark Supreme Court decision guaranteeing students’ free speech and expression. “When I asked my son’s principal why he wouldn’t be allowed to wear his wristband to school anymore, he said some teachers found it offensive,” said Natali Quintanilla, mother of the eighth grader whose wristband was banned. “My son is honest and happy about who he is, and I love him and support his right to be himself. There are a lot of things teachers should be more concerned about than one little wristband – like educating our children.” Quintanilla contacted the ACLU last month 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. When her son was harassed for being gay earlier this school year, Quintanilla said the same principal told her, “If he didn’t put it out there the way he does, he wouldn’t have much of a problem.” The Supreme Court has held that students have a right to free speech at school, and that includes gay students. The ACLU has given the school ten days to respond to its letter.