Sixth-Grader's Essay on Harvey Milk Censored in Ramona
Natalie Jones, a Ramona, Calif. sixth-grader was forbidden to give a presentation on Harvey Milk to her class because it violated the school district's strict policy on "family life and sex education."
The Ramona Unified School district has singled out sixth-grader student, Natalie Jones, and forbidden her to present to her class a well-written presentation simply because the subject is Harvey Milk, an advocate of gay rights, according to The Advocate.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is now threatening a lawsuit against the school. ACLU has already filed a complaint, demanding an apology, the chance for Jones to give her presentation, and a clarification of the district's policy on related topics.
According to ACLU, Natalie Jones chose Harvey Milk as her school project topic after watching the Oscar-winning film about his career in politics and activism which inspired her to learn more about the openly gay San Francisco political figure. She received a score of 49 out of a possible 50 points on her written report.
The day prior her planned presentation at Mt. Woodson Elementary School she was called into the principal's office where she was told she could not talk about Milk because it violated the school district's strict policy on "family life and sex education," and was too sensitive a subject t give to her class.
The district did offer Jones an opportunity to give her presentation but only to students whose parents signed permission slips. The school's policy emphasizes that parents will be notified if their children are being exposed to lessons about "human reproductive organs and their functions, processes, or sexually transmitted diseases" as well as "family life, human sexuality, AIDS, or sexually transmitted diseases." The assignment, part of an independent research project class, was originally to prepare a written report on any topic.
"Schools that act as if any mention of the existence of gay people is something too controversial or 'sensitive' to discuss are doing a disservice to their students," the ACLU's Elizabeth Gill said in a statement. "This school completely overstepped its bounds in trying to silence Natalie Jones by shunting her presentation off to a lunch recess time and misusing a school policy to justify requiring parental permission to see it."
Bonnie Jones, Natalie's mother, also issued a statement on Wednesday calling the ordeal "unbelievable" and adding "to say my daughter's presentation is 'sex education' because Harvey Milk happened to be gay is completely wrong."