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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘We Don’t Promote That Here’: Kentucky School Administrators Force Students to Remove LGBTQ-Pride Tee Shirts

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Student Says Principal Outed Several LGBTQ Students to Their Parents

Administrators at a Kentucky high school reportedly forced several students to remove LGBTQ-affirming tee shirts,. The students say they were told “we don’t promote that here,” referring to being LGBTQ, and that the shirts were a “disruption.”

Administrators at Martin County High School reportedly claimed the tee shirts violate the school’s dress code, which says: “Clothing must be appropriate for school and must not interfere with the educational process.”

The tee shirts said “Queen Queer” and “Lady Lesbian,” according to Yahoo News.

The school administrators might have violated the students’ free speech, based on other similar cases (below).

The students are accusing the administration of refusing to allow a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), suggesting that words like “lesbian” or “queer” when used in a positive manner are “disruptive” and could put students in danger, and saying that school is not a place they can or should be open about who they are – while allowing students to flaunt their support of the Confederate flag or President Trump.

“The administrators stated to us that [students] were forced to change because [administrators] were ‘worried for the dangers of the students, and did not want to hear of any students coming back saying they were being bullied,” one of the students told Yahoo News. They added that the administrators said “That school was not a place for children to express their sexual orientation.”

Rather than working to protect free speech – an important lesson for all school students – the LGBTQ students were discriminated against, victimized, and might have had their civil rights violated by the school administrators.

“It was basically just [the principal] saying that we don’t need to advertise our orientations on a big billboard because that puts a target on us for bullying,” one of the students, Jessica, added. “She also said we didn’t need a [Gay-Straight Alliance because we already know who our friends are that support us.”

“We want the administration to really treat others equally because we want the ability to express our identities just like the students who wear Trump apparel, religious apparel or the Confederate flag. I know we are in a rural, Christian-Republican community, but we want tolerance. Our shirts aren’t hurting anyone. It’s unfair that because the staff have certain beliefs, they treat students differently and scare them into not speaking out,” Jessica also said. “We just want justice.”

Yahoo News adds that “Jessica even alleged that the principal outed some LGBTQ students to their parents when calling to warn about a possible walkout which never took place.”

The school appears to be ripe for an intervention from civil rights groups.

In 2016 The ACLU sued a Tennessee school district that had banned a student from wearing a tee shirt that said: “Some People Are Gay, Get Over It.” The ACLU won.

In a detailed look at pro-LGBTQ tees cases, including the 2016 Tennessee case, the Southern Poverty Law Center adds: “First and most importantly, a school cannot manufacture its own ‘disruption’ by overreacting to speech.”

The SPLC also offers more examples, including this one:

“In 2008, a Florida judge struck down a Pensacola-area school’s ban on logos including rainbows, pink triangles and the words ‘gay pride’ or ‘GP,’ which students began wearing in defense of a classmate bullied for being a lesbian.”

Here’s a video report from about the Martin County school administrators decision to ban the speech of several LGBTQ students, from WYMT:

 

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

GOP Launches Witch Hunt Demanding Investigation Into Highly-Respected University Professor’s Tweets

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Republicans in Virginia are demanding that University of Virginia President James E. Ryan open an investigation into tweets by Center for Politics founder Dr. Larry Sabato.

“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Virginia GOP Chair Rich Anderson wrote in a letter printed on Republican Party of Virginia letterhead.

“In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”

A spokesperson for the university said Sabato has done nothing wrong.

“There is nothing in our Code of Conduct that limits University employees from engaging in expression that is protected under the First Amendment,” the spokesman said.

Anderson complained about eight tweets by Sabato. The first noted Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

The second tweet concerned Trump’s fact-free approach to presidential debates.

The third tweet was in the context of Trump hoping to bring back executions by firing squad while facing accusations of extreme tax fraud. It was in the comments of a Daily Beast story.

The fourth tweet questioned Trump’s sanity after he released a 46-minute video pushing his “Big Lie” of voter fraud.

The fifth tweet praised a return to normalcy “after 4 years of the bizarre and disturbing.”

The sixth tweet returned to the question of Trump’s mental health in the context of the delusional conspiracy theory that he will be “reinstated” as president in August in violation of the Constitution.

The seventh tweet concerned Glenn Youngkin, who is worth hundreds of millions after working as the co-CEO of the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group. Youngkin is now running for governor of Virginia.

The final tweet the GOP believes should result in an investigation concerned Trump’s choice of music at his campaign-style rallies.

 

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

‘Highly Unusual and Unrelenting’: Bill Barr Waged a Secret Court Battle With CNN to Obtain Reporter’s Email Logs

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CNN’s lead attorney revealed this Wednesday that the Trump administration battled with the network for half a year to obtain the email record of a reporter, and demanded that it all be done in secret.

In July of 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr demanded two months’ of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s 2017 email logs. According to CNN, the pursuit represented “a highly unusual and unrelenting push for journalists’ records,” which included “putting CNN general counsel David Vigilante under a gag order prohibiting him from sharing any details about the government’s efforts with anyone beyond the network’s president, top attorneys at CNN’s corporate parent and attorneys at an outside law firm.”

While CNN acknowledges that it’s not uncommon for a media organization to be subpoenaed for a reporter’s records, what stands apart “is the total secrecy that surrounded the order, the months-long court proceeding and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to negotiate.”

Read the full report over at CNN.

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FIRST AMENDMENT? WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

Trump’s DOJ Covertly Collected Award Winning CNN Reporter’s Email and Phone Records: Report

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On Thursday, CNN reported that the Justice Department, under former President Donald Trump, secretly collected email and phone records from a CNN reporter, without notifying either the reporter or the news organization.

“The Justice Department informed CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, in a May 13 letter, that prosecutors had obtained her phone and email records covering two months, between June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017,” reported Jeremy Herb and Jessica Schneider. “The letter listed phone numbers for Starr’s Pentagon extension, the CNN Pentagon booth phone number and her home and cell phones, as well as Starr’s work and personal email accounts.”

“The seizure of Starr’s records is the third disclosure in as many weeks where the Trump administration used its Justice Department to secretly obtain communications of journalists or to expose the identity of critics of former President Donald Trump’s allies,” continued the report.

Starr reportedly was not the target of a criminal investigation.

“CNN strongly condemns the secret collection of any aspect of a journalist’s correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “We are asking for an immediate meeting with the Justice Department for an explanation.”

Under Trump, the Justice Department was frequently controversial for its attitude towards the press. At his confirmation hearing, Attorney General William Barr stumbled over a question about whether he would use the DOJ to imprison journalists.

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