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This Week in Civil Liberties (8/19/2011)

From a teacher terminating for pumping breast milk to a school districts anti-LGBTQ computer blockers.
Rekha Arulanantham,
Litigation Fellow,
ACLU National Prison Project
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August 19, 2011

What school fired a teacher for having to pump breast milk?
How did California’s BART system censor the public to avoid a political demonstration?
What school district allows students to access anti-LGBT websites but blocks LGBT sites that provide anti-bullying information and other resources?
What state discourages donations to organizations that provide information on reproductive health services?
What major world power violated human rights according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (Here’s a hint: If you are reading this, you most likely live in this country.)

Want to Breastfeed Your Baby? You’re Fired!
Heather Burgbacher told her employer, Rocky Mountain Academy, that she had a right to pump breast milk at work. And what was her employer’s response? Heather was terminated, not because of any performance issues, but because of the “conflict” she had caused over her need to pump at work.

Free Speech and BART Cell Phone Censorship
For three hours on Thursday, August 11, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) shut down cell phone service in four stations, prior to a planned political demonstration protesting the fatal shooting of a homeless man by a BART police officer. Tell the FCC to conduct a thorough investigation >>

ACLU Sues Missouri School District for Illegally Censoring LGBT Websites
Back in May, as part of our Don’t Filter Me project, the ACLU sent a letter to the Camdenton School District informing them that the web filters they use on school computers were unconstitutionally blocking access to hundreds of LGBT websites, including sites that contain anti-bullying information and other resources for student gay-straight alliances. We informed them that if they failed to disable the filter, they would be “subject to legal liability and the expense of litigation…” They brushed us off. So we sued.

Arizona Law Says Choose Between Donations and Providing Care to Women
Just months after Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl made false and misleading statements about Planned Parenthood’s prenatal services, Arizona is once again attacking groups that provide abortion information or services. The latest scheme: A law to rewrite the tax code to exclude any nonprofit organization that provides abortion referrals or counseling from receiving donations through the state’s Working Poor Tax Credit Program.

Make My Case Count!
Six years ago, Jessica Lenahan turned to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an international tribunal responsible for promoting and protecting human rights throughout the Americas, because the justice system in the United States had abandoned her. On Wednesday, IACHR issued a landmark decision in her case that found that the United States violated her human rights and those of her three children, Rebecca, Katheryn, and Leslie.

Safety in Numbers?
A new infographic out from the ACLU shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, increasing a state’s prison population isn’t necessarily a good way to make that state safer.

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