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ACLU Sues Madera County School For Calling Student Yearbook Quotes 'Politically Divisive'

Mar 7, 2019


Attorneys with the ACLU filed a lawsuit Wednesday against a school district in Madera County, saying it violated two students’ right to free speech and right to anti-LGBTQ bias in California schools.
 

When Minarets High School students Steven Madrid and Mikayla Garaffa submitted their senior quotes to the yearbook, they thought they were being inclusive. But the yearbook advisor said their quotes were “politically divisive.”

Students Mikayla Garaffa and Steven Madrid submitted quotes for their yearbook that were rejected for being "politically divisive." The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the district, saying their right to free speech has been violated.
Credit ACLU of Northern California

“Mine was, ‘If Harry Potter has taught us anything, it’s that no one deserves to live in a closet. What they don’t know can’t hurt them,’” says Garaffa.

Her quote is a reference to J.K. Rowling’s character, Albus Dumbledore. Rowling revealed that the character was gay only after completing the series.

ACLU staff attorney Abre’ Connor says the quotes were peaceful and non-vulgar.

“What we saw was a school, a yearbook advisor and school district discriminating against our client based on their sexual orientation, based on their gender identity, and their gender expression, and that is a violation of the California fair Education Act.”

Connor says The California Education Code does lay out what speech is not protected; things that may be considered obscene or libelous. But, she says, the yearbook quotes don’t fall under those categories. It’s unclear yet if the original quotes from Garaffa and Madrid will be accepted in their school yearbook. The Chawanakee Unified School District did not respond to a request for comment.