Youth & Student Rights

Constitution Day: ACLU to Award $25,000 to Schools Nationwide

By Justin M. Loveland, Outreach Intern

In 2004, Congress created Constitution Day – a day on which we can all celebrate our fundamental rights and responsibilities set forth by the U.S. Constitution. The same piece of legislation requires that all schools receiving federal funds teach something about the U.S. Constitution on September 17.

The law was spearheaded by Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), who was worried – and perhaps rightly so – that not enough Americans could list the rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, recall the number of senators there are, explain the three branches of government, or decide whether the Constitution establishes the United States as a Christian nation. For the record, it does not.


Top 8 Civil Liberties Victories of 2013 in Oregon

By Sarah Armstrong, Outreach Coordinator

It has been quite a year on the civil liberties front lines in Oregon. We picked our top eight civil liberties victories of 2013. Not surprisingly, intersections of privacy and technology make the most appearances on our list, but we also had wins for the rights of transgender people, immigrant rights, free speech, due process, and racial justice.

We love Oregon and are working hard to ensure it remains a place that honors freedom and values the rights of all people. Join us! Support civil liberties in Oregon.

#8 - You can’t be required to “friend” your boss.

It’s hard to believe, but some employers require that folks hand over their social media passwords, allow them to “shoulder surf” their online accounts, or mandate that they “friend” them on sites like Facebook. We helped pass a law in Oregon that prohibits employers (and public colleges) from that type of snooping.

Private activities that would never be intruded upon offline should not receive less privacy protection simply because they take place online. An employer would never be allowed to read an applicant’s diary or postal mail, listen in at private gatherings with friends, or look at that person’s private videos and photo albums. They should not expect the right to do the electronic equivalent.

#7 – No, you may not radio track Oregon students! (Well, at least not without telling us first.)

In November 2012, a Texas student was kicked out of school for failure to wear a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag that was distributed for tracking attendance. RFID tags are tiny computer chips that are more commonly used to track everything from cattle to commercial products moving through warehouses. Oregon legislators took notice and went to work on a new law to prevent this from happening here.


Bipartisan Group of Legislators Lead Oregon to Equal Access to Education Law

By Becky Straus, Legislative Director

Today in front of a packed room of supporters, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law HB 2787, a law that brings access to in-state tuition to all Oregonians, regardless of immigration status. The governor’s action marked the culmination of an over ten-year-long campaign for tuition equity in Oregon. It is about time.

A Democratic majority in both chambers and the rising political influence of Latinos in the electorate contributed to this great victory, but ultimately it was the leadership of a few key legislators that cleared the path for this bill’s passage. Sen. Frank Morse (R-Albany) and Sen. David Nelson (R-Pendleton), each now retired from the legislature, departed from the prevailing view of many in their caucus, and co-sponsored the tuition equity bill in the 2011 session. Their sponsorship demonstrated to Oregonians that tuition equity is about fairness rather than partisan politics. And their public support for the bill invited their colleagues to follow so that, despite the fact that Morse and Nelson are no longer in the legislature, eight Republicans (including Nelson’s successor) helped tuition equity pass in 2013.


Students Not Required to Participate in the Pledge of Allegiance

By Emily Garber

FlagReciting the Pledge of Allegiance during morning announcements is just part of the school-day routine for many students. Yet, for other students, the choice to remain seated and silent during the Pledge is an important exercise of their rights to freedom of speech and religion. Jeff Mason, a fifth grade teacher at Highland Elementary School in Reedsport, Oregon, battled for his students’ right to remain respectfully seated during the Pledge for twelve long years before he called the ACLU of Oregon. Although federal law, Oregon law, and Reedsport School District policy all prohibit compelling public school students to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance, faculty and staff members at Highland Elementary School routinely forced their students to stand during the daily recitation of the Pledge, singling out students for public embarrassment if they attempted to invoke their right to remain seated.