Originally published Spring 2010
When you support the ACLU with contributions and letter-writing campaigns, you probably feel good about what you do. Have you ever wondered who else is grateful for your support? Let us introduce you to a few.
There’s 13 year old Savana Redding. She was strip searched at her middle school in Stafford, Arizona, based on a classmate’s false accusation that she possessed ibuprofen pills. Savana and her mom were turned away by lower courts when they challenged this violation of privacy. The ACLU helped them take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. According to Savana, “With supportive ACLU lawyers by my side, we won a critical Supreme Court ruling that establishes new protections against strip-searches in public schools — a ruling that will protect generations of students from having to go through the same kind of humiliating invasion of privacy that I did.”
Nick George, a Pomona College foreign language student was abusively interrogated, handcuffed and detained at the Philadelphia International Airport because of a set of English-Arabic flashcards he had with him. A TSA supervisor questioned Nick, asking him how he felt about 9/11, whether he knew who did 9/11, and whether he knew what language Osama bin Laden spoke. Nick was handcuffed, led through a terminal to the airport police station where he was left in a locked cell for two hours in the handcuffs, and for two more hours with the handcuffs removed. He was then interrogated for half an hour, and he was not informed of his rights. By the time he was released, Nick had long since missed his flight and was told by airline officials that he would have to wait until the next day to travel. The ACLU and the ACLU of Pennsylvania have filed a lawsuit on Nick’s behalf.
Cynthia Stewart, a 17-year-old junior at Tharptown High School in northern Alabama, a member of her school’s prom planning committee, had personally raised over $200 for the prom and created the theme her classmates had chosen for the dance. She is also an out lesbian.
When Cynthia approached her principal to ask if she could bring her girlfriend with her to the prom, she was denied permission. He also made Cynthia remove a sticker she was wearing that said, “I am a lesbian,” and told her, “You don’t have that much freedom of speech at school.”
Cynthia’s aunt and guardian, Kathy Baker, appealed the principal’s decision to the school board, which let stand the decision to bar Cynthia from bringing her girlfriend to the prom. Cynthia then sought help from the ACLU of Alabama. Subsequently, the Franklin County School System officials reversed their decision: Cynthia will be allowed to attend the prom with her girlfriend.
Who else appreciates your support? We do.
Roberta Schonemann and Judy Weitzman
Co-Presidents, Greater Lafayette Chapter ACLU of Indiana