LINCOLN, Neb. – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nebraska issued a demand letter to Northwest Public Schools' superintendent and board members, responding to concerns about the district’s elimination of its journalism program — an apparent backlash to school newspaper editorials written by and about LGBTQ people. The ACLU of Nebraska says the action violated students’ constitutional rights and disregarded other protections in federal law.
The demand letter urges the district to immediately issue an apology and reinstate the school newspaper and journalism program. It also calls on officials to adopt new policies to better protect LGBTQ students and student journalists.
Along with the demands, the letter includes a litigation hold that instructs recipients to preserve certain documents, effectively warning that the ACLU of Nebraska is considering litigation.
Sara Rips, LGBTQIA+ legal and policy counsel, issued the following statement regarding today’s letter.
“All young people should be able to learn free from censorship and discrimination. The First Amendment protects students’ rights to learn free from viewpoint discrimination, meaning school officials cannot make an idea unavailable or deny students an educational opportunity solely because they disagree with an idea. In this case, school officials cannot suppress the idea that LGBTQ people belong simply because they do not want students to encounter it. We will continue to explore all available legal remedies to ensure a safe and equitable learning environment where all students’ rights are respected.”