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ACLU Settles Manteca Free Speech Case

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The ACLU of Northern California has settled a free speech case with a school district in Manteca. The case has to do with the message on a T-shirt. 

The T-shirt read: "Nobody Knows I'm A Lesbian." It was worn last August by a junior at Sierra High School. She was sent home for refusing to change out of the shirt.

"It was shocking to us that the school district had censored her T-shirt," says Christine Sun with the ACLU of Northern California which took up the case.

Shocking, Sun says, because federal courts consistently have ruled that schools cannot prevent students from expressing their personal beliefs, unless they pose a threat or significant disruption.

"The law's also clear," says Sun, "that just because some students may act disruptively in reaction to another student's shirt, that that is not a legal reason to censor the student who's peacefully expressing her views."

She says the deal approved Tuesday requires the Manteca Unified School District to clarify that students may wear clothing with statements celebrating their cultural identities. 

Here's a statement released today by the Manteca Unified School District:

A Freedom of Speech claim was filed against the District stemming from a dress code violation of our current policies. The existent board approved policy was followed. Last night, the School Board of Trustees reviewed the policy and administrative regulation associated with dress code. They voted to amend and approve the policy. Students continue to be supported in their right for self-expression in all of our high schools. Our number one priority continues to be the ability to keep our kids safe physically and emotionally.



Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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