Teens leave classes for immigrant rights
A record number of high school students across the nation, from Minnesota, Texas, Colorado and Illinois to Florida, Massachusetts, Kansas and Arizona, have protested against criminalization of immigrants and for civil rights. In Aurora, Ill., a far-west suburb of Chicago, up to 1,000 students left classes last week to demonstrate. Waving American flags, the students assembled across the street from West Aurora High School at about 8 a.m. and marched downtown, gathering in a supermarket parking lot to hear speeches.
“We are missing school today, but we may be missing our entire future if we’re not here,” said West Aurora High School sophomore Yadira Hernandez. Urging unity, a student from East Aurora H.S. said, “Don’t forget, this is not just for Latinos. This is for the Jewish community. This is for the Asian community. This is for every illegal immigrant there is.”
Many have organized walkouts and rallies about the pending immigration legislation. Many have joined with their parents, labor unions and community organizations in the massive marches last month and on April 10 — the National Day of Action for Immigrant Justice. That day, in Tucson, Ariz., nearly 15,000 students and at least 500 classroom teachers didn’t show up for school as part of the day of action protest. Even seventh and eighth graders mobilized.
An estimated 200 students from Daniel Webster Middle School in Waukegan, Ill., staged a brief but spirited contribution to the national day of action, walking out of school at 10 a.m. and marching to a nearby park.

Lesbian crowned Homecoming King
Twenty-one-year-old Jennifer Jones, a self-identified lesbian senior at Hood College in Maryland, was crowned Homecoming King in early March. In competition with three other people, all males, she received 64 out of 169 votes — 38 percent in a four-way race. She tried to run last year, but was not allowed, even though she had gathered enough signatures for nomination. The Newark, N.J., native told the press she thought it “is cool that Hood allows people to be themselves.”

Students challenge federal government over drug law
Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, working with the American Civil Liberties Union, recently filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that the Higher Education Act Drug Provision, which bars students with drug convictions from receiving financial aid, is unconstitutional. So far, 175,000 have lost the possibility of student aid. SSDP scored a major victory earlier this year, when they forced the government to scale the law back somewhat: Now students with drug convictions may eventually regain eligibility unless they were convicted while attending college. This is the first time any federal drug law has been scaled back in over a decade. SSDP hopes that the lawsuit will entirely wipe out the law.

Victory scored for free speech, against racism
Students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., scored a victory this month over censorship after the school administration’s decision to ban a Black History Month segment on the school’s student-run television channel was reversed following a series of meetings with authorities, a petition and walkouts.
According to the Student Press Law Center, several videos were banned, including a public service announcement on littering, but most problematic was an administrator’s decision to ban a student video featuring the Black Panther Party of the 1960s and Hip Hop music of the early 1990s, saying it was “too divisive.” An administration-written story about a youth whose father walked out on him after his mother had cheated was used to replace the student video as a portrayal of the “common Black struggle.” The victorious students played the Black Panther video, as well as another nixed video on the Million Man March.

— Dan Margolis (dmargolis@pww.org)