California student censored from giving Harvey Milk presentation in class

activism, education, lgbt Add comments

aclumilkA California elementary school sixth grader has been banned from giving a presentation on Harvey Milk in class as it violates the school’s sex education policy. Natalie Jones, a student at Mt. Woodson Elementary School in Romana, California,  based her presentation on an independent research project she wrote about the gay civil rights leader. After reviewing the incident, the ACLU determined that it is a free speech issue, particularly since the school referenced its sex education policy in its decision, and is now pursuing the case. From the ACLU press release:

“The principal and superintendent grossly misinterpreted school policy. They illegally censored student speech protected by the First Amendment and the California Education Code,” said David Blair-Loy, Legal Director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties. “Writing or talking about a gay historical figure who advocated for equal rights for LGBT Californians is in no way the same thing as talking about sex, and school officials should not pretend otherwise.”

The student’s mother Bonnie Jones:

“This whole thing is unbelievable – first my daughter got called into the principal’s office as if she were in some kind of trouble, and then they treated her presentation like it was something icky. Harvey Milk was an elected official in this state and an important person in history. To say my daughter’s presentation is ‘sex education’ because Harvey Milk happened to be gay is completely wrong.”

Below is the part of the school’s sex education policy which is in question:

“(P)arents/guardians shall be notified in writing about any instruction in which human reproductive organs and their functions, processes, or sexually transmitted diseases are described, illustrated, or discussed. In addition, before any instruction on family life, human sexuality, AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases is given, the parent/guardian shall be provided with written notice explaining that the instruction will be given…”

The ACLU is seeking an apology for Natalie, an opportunity for her to give the presentation in front of her class, and a clarification of parental notification issues with regards to the sex education policy.

Post by ILO on 05/20/09 at 11:24 am