The ACLU works with teachers, parents, students, community members, and legislators to ensure equality and dignity for all students in Texas schools, regardless of their religious affiliation, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The ACLU of Texas defends the civil rights and civil liberties of all people in Texas, in courtrooms, at the state legislature, and in large and small communities throughout the Lone Star State.

Disproportionate Punishment
The “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to the policies and practices that push our schoolchildren, especially those most at-risk, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems, often for misbehavior that has traditionally been handled by schools and parents. This reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education. Despite significant strides in Texas, our schools continue to rely heavily on ticketing as a form of discipline, to embrace “zero tolerance” policies that ignore individual circumstances, to disproportionately punish children of color and special needs kids, and to put disciplinary action in the hands of police officers trained for the streets.

Every child in Texas deserves a safe, supportive learning environment. Whether because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity, youth are often unable to find help when they are targeted for bullying and discrimination at school. When kids do assert their rights, they may face resistance (or worse) from teachers and administrators.

Defending LGBT Youth
82% of LGBT youth experience bullying about their sexual orientation, 44% feel unsafe in their schools, and 34% have missed school because they feel unsafe. LGBT youth suffer from cyber-bullying at a rate 2-3 times greater than their straight peers, and many are subjected to anti-LGBT verbal abuse as often as two dozen times a day. Worse still, LGBT students are three times likelier to attempt suicide, a figure that rockets to eight times likelier if their families do not accept them for who they are.

The ACLU of Texas is committed to ensuring that LGBT students have access to a safe and nurturing learning environment. We work with both schools and students to see that civil liberties are not infringed by speech restrictions or dress codes, to provide transgender students with appropriate bathroom and locker room access, and we help promote education and inclusion by fostering Gay-Straight Alliances in schools throughout the state.

Protecting Students’ Rights to Privacy and Free Speech
As the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines in 1969, students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. Throughout our history, the ACLU of Texas has worked to ensure that students can express themselves in the context of their educational environment. We have also worked to protect students’ rights to privacy by fighting attempts to institute mandatory warrantless drug testing in school districts throughout Texas.  

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