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Monday, April 22, 2024 | Back issues
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ACLU Takes On AZ Schools Over Wristbands

PHOENIX (CN) - The ACLU of Arizona says Peoria Unified School District unconstitutionally prohibited a 14-year-old student from wearing a rainbow-colored wristband bearing the words "Rainbows are gay." The eighth-grader at Parkridge Elementary School was not allowed to wear the cloth wristband after principal David Svorinic told his mother and told her that some of her son's teachers found the wristband offensive and disruptive, the ACLU wrote to Superintendent Denton Santarelli.

"This raises important issues about civics," ACLU of Arizona executive director Alessandra Soler Meetze said. "The school should respect the Constitution.

"I think here the school did overreact and the principal claimed that some students and teachers were offended. It lets politics and biases dictate how students should act."

This is not the first time that Svorinic has questioned the boy's individual expression, Soler Meetze said.

"Chris has been struggling with harassment at this school and the principal was aware of that and the principal dismissed it," she said. "At one point the principal had problems with Christopher dyeing his hair black."

Bonnie Apperson, director of public relations for the district, said the information in the ACLU letter is incorrect.

"We are floored. I know that the wristband was not banned by any PUSD employee and I know the student still has been wearing the wristband and he has not been punished," Apperson said. "We spend lots of time protecting student rights and we guarantee that kids are safe from harassment. I think that is why we are a little bit surprised."

Apperson says Peoria Unified School District has not yet received the original copy of the ACLU's letter.

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