Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education


Academic journal article Journal of Law and Education


Article excerpt



Constitutional Claims and Civil Rights

Student gay rights group sued school board alleging board violated their rights under Equal Access Act (EAA) and First Amendment by denying group same access to facilities given other student groups. High school students formed a student gay rights group after receiving approval from the school board. However, due to public hostility, the board officially suspended all student groups for the remainder of the school year. Despite the suspension, the board allowed some groups to continue meeting, while steadfastly prohibiting the gay rights group from doing so. Held: For the gay rights group. Under the EAA, once a school allows one non-curriculum-related group meet on school property, the school may not deny other groups equal access to meet on school property. The school may not deny access because of community opposition, even if it interferes with order and discipline. Boyd Co. High Sch. Gay Straight Alliance v. Bd. Of Educ. Of Boyd Co., 258 F. Supp. 2d 667 (E.D. Ky. 2003).

President of summer camp sued school district for failing to distribute camp literature possessing religious content. The school district refused to distribute literature of a summer camp which contained religious material on the basis that such distributions violated the separation of church and state. The camp's president subsequently sued the district over this policy, claiming it violated the camp's right to free speech under the First Amendment. Held: For the camp president. Because the school district created a forum in which it distributed information that would be of interest to school children, it may not discriminate on the basis that some literature may contain religious content. Since the literature contains express disclaimers that the school district is not endorsing the religious material set forth in the brochure, there is no violation of the separation of church and state. Hills v. Scottsdale Unified Sch. Dist. No. 48, 329 F.3d 1044 (9th Cir. 2003).

Parents sued school district for preventing their daughter from participating in gym class after it was revealed she was a lesbian. The eighthgrader was barred from gym class and forced to sit in the principal's office after the school discovered she was a lesbian. The school alleged the other female students felt uncomfortable changing in the same locker room. The student's parents argued this humiliated their daughter and was in effect punishing her for her sexual orientation. The parents sued the school district for the violation of their daughter's civil rights. Held: For the student. The court held the Eleventh Amendment did not bar the student's claim against the school district employees in their individual capacity. Furthermore, the district employees were not immune from liability under California law as immunity is only allowed for basic policy decisions. Massey v. Banning Unified Sch. Dist., 256 F. Supp. 2d 1090 (C.D. Cal. 2003).

Parents sued school board for violation of the Establishment Clause. Certain students' parents claimed that a Virginia statute requiring students to recite the pledge of allegiance daily and a statute requiring all public schools to post the motto "In God We Trust" was unconstitutional. The parents argued the statute established a state supported religion and therefore violated their children's First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Held: For the school board. The court held the specific language of the statute that no child shall be forced to recite the pledge did not violate the children's right to free speech. Furthermore, the court held that because the motto promoted no specific religion by the use of the word "God," it was therefore not religious in nature. Consequently, the motto was not in violation of the Establishment Clause. Myers v. Loudoun Co. Sch. Bd., 251 F. Supp. 2d 1262 (E.D. Va. …

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