Federal Bills Seek To Reinstate Student Aid Eligibility To Minor Marijuana Offenders

NORML | February 18, 2016

Washington, DC: A bipartisan coalition of US senators introduced legislation last week to restore student financial aid eligibility to minor marijuana offenders.

Senate Bill 2557: The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act, aka the SUCCESS Act, sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), repeals the language in the Higher Education Act that strips students of aid because of a past drug offense, and removes the drug conviction question from the student aid application form (FAFSA).

Between 2013 and 2014, 1,107 applicants lost eligibility for a full year of aid because of a drug conviction or a failure to report one, according to Department of Education.

“A youthful mistake shouldn’t keep a person out of college and the middle class,” Sen. Casey said. “There’s now an emerging bipartisan consensus on the need to reform our criminal justice system and ensure students who have already paid their debt to society are not punished twice.”

Separate House legislation, HR 3561: The Fair Access to Education Act, also remains pending in Congress.

For more information, please contact Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director, or visit NORML’s Take Action Center: http://www.norml.org/act.

Fixing student debt: States and activists take unconventional measures


RT America | February 6, 2016

Some states around the US are taking unconventional measures to help cut the cost of colleges. In New Mexico, 30% of money spent on the lottery goes to students’ scholarships. RT’s Simone Del Rosario explains what states are doing to lower college costs, and speaks to some who have benefited from it and an activist working on ballot initiatives to help effectuate tuition pricing changes.

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Club Fight: Tenn. Residents Complain About High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance

Rob Boston | Talk2Action | January 27, 2016

At public schools around the country, students, mostly high schoolers, are forming Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. Fundamentalist Christians often freak out over the existence of these clubs, like these people are doing in Winchester, Tenn.

Whenever this happens, I have to explain, once again, who made it possible for students to form Gay-Straight Alliances at public secondary schools.

It was fundamentalist Christians.

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Groundbreaking High School for LGBT Students to Open

Associated Press | Yahoo News | January 6, 2016

A first-of-its-kind private school in Georgia aimed at attracting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and teachers is being established in Atlanta for students who feel bullied or not accepted in traditional schools.

Pride School Atlanta is a k-12 institution designed to be an alternative for LGBT students, though the school is open to any student who believes they’re not getting the support they need for “being different,” says Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz.

“Kids have full permission to be themselves — as well as educators. Where there’s no wondering, ‘Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?’” said Zsilavetz, who is transgender and a veteran teacher with nearly 25 years of experience. “This is a place where they (students) can just open up and be the best person they can be.”

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Student slaps FL public schools with suit for refusing to teach evolution because it contradicts the Bible

 | Raw Story | December 18, 2015

A Boca Raton man and his young son are suing the boy’s Florida school district for neglecting to teach the theory of evolution because of religious beliefs, WPBF reports.

Brandon Silver may only be 11, but he joined his attorney dad, Barry Silver, in slapping the  Palm Beach County school board with the 18-page suit.

“It’s such a magnificent story and it’s being neglected. The students are being deprived of learning from it because certain religious people don’t like the story because it contradicts the Bible and we think it is terrible that children shouldn’t learn the truth about where they came from,” Barry Silver told the station.

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Catholic Girls’ School Violated Gay Man’s Rights, Court Rules

Reuters | December 17, 2015

BOSTON (Reuters) – A Boston-area Roman Catholic girls’ high school violated a gay man’s rights when it revoked an offer for him to work as director of food services after he revealed on a form that he was married to another man, a state court has ruled.

Matthew Barrett last year sued Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, south of Boston, saying it had discriminated against him when it revoked a job offer made in 2013 after learning of his sexual orientation.

The school argued that as a Catholic institution, it had an obligation for all staff to model the values of the church, which teaches that homosexual activity is immoral.

Massachusetts Superior Court Justice Douglas Wilkins late Wednesday rejected that argument, noting that Barrett had been offered a job that did not involve teaching ethics but simply preparing food.

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The Supreme Court on Affirmative Action: 5 Possible Outcomes

Bill Blum | Truthdig | December 12, 2015

    Abigail Fisher, who challenged the use of race in college admissions, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday. With her is Edward Blum, who helped bring the case to court. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Like a lot of veterans—or old fogies, take your pick—of the political uprisings of the late ’60s and early ’70s, I’ve watched the growth of the new college protest movement with avid interest. I was heartened by the determined young activists who stood up to entrenched racism at the University of Missouri. I’ve also applauded—with a few quibbles here and there—the many others who, inspired by the Black Lives Matter struggle, have raised demands for greater diversity on campuses across the country.

On Wednesday, those demands made their way to the Supreme Court—not directly, but in effect, during the oral arguments heard in the case of Abigail Noel Fisher v. the University of Texas.

Filed in 2008 after her application to UT was rejected, Fisher’s case was originally considered by the Supreme Court in 2012-13 but was sent back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is now before the Supreme Court for a second round of review.

Christian university is granted federal permission to exclude LGBT students

David Hudson | Gay Star News | December 11, 2015

A Christian university in Tennessee has been granted a federal exemption to ban gay and trans students, and others that it feels doesn’t fit in with its faith-based outlook on life.

Dr. Randall O’Brien, the President of the Carson-Newman University, has said that he applied for Title IX exemption for the Southern Baptist institute in Jefferson City because he was advised to do so by his attorney.

As well as LGBT students, the exemption allows the school to exclude unwed mothers, students who are pregnant or women who have had an abortion.

Title IX was introduced to US law in 1972 to prevent sex discrimination in education. However, schools run by religious organization can apply for exemptions if adhering to the amendment ‘would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.’

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Student blackout: Protesters rally against racism across American universities


RT America | November 20, 2015

A wave of anti-racism protests has spread across college campuses in America, demanding action to battle ongoing racial and social tensions throughout the US. Activists have also been showing solidarity with the students at the University of Missouri following a week of unrest on the campus there. RT’s Anya Parampil has the details.

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NC parents force ban on student clubs over LGBT inclusion: ‘The only diversity school needs is the Bible’

 | Raw Story | November 17, 2015

A North Carolina K-12 charter school has caved to parents and shut down all student clubs over concerns about the inclusion of a student LGBT group.

The Daily Courier reported that parents and other members of the community “blindsided” the Lake Lure Classical Academy board of directors at a meeting on Friday after students formed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Club.

On grandmother reportedly complained to the board that she would have to explain the meaning of “gay” and “lesbian” to her grandchild because of the club.

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