Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What the numbers tell us about students with disabilities

On October 21 the U.S Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance to schools reinforcing the fact that bullying is not to be tolerated in our schools.  The guidance included a reminder that this applies to those students with disabilities.  Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act outline school’s responsibilities to take immediate action to investigate any allegations of bullying and to take steps to stop the bullying and ensure prevention of any reoccurrence. All programs that receive federal funding are mandated to bar discrimination on the basis of disability.

Unfortunately, in our nation’s schools and in Wyoming schools, discrimination and bullying of students with disabilities does not always come from students, but from teaching staff and administrators.  One in three of all children arrested have a disability and those with emotional disabilities are three times more likely to be arrested before they leave high school than other students.

What we know is that children who are forced into the “school to prison pipeline” are less likely to graduate, less likely to be gainfully employed and more likely to end up in the adult prison system.

Wyoming has one of the highest rates of physically restraining students with disabilities in the nation.  Less than 15% of Wyoming students have been diagnosed with a disability, yet 93% of students physically restrained are disabled students.  These numbers show a shocking inability of our education system to effectively assist Wyoming children with disabilities to have productive healthy lives.  Click here to see your school district’s disciplinary data.

Linda Burt
Executive Director 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Are you ready for Election Day?

With less than a week until Election Day, it’s important to remember that every vote counts! In order to participate in the democratic process all voters need to understand the rules in our state, register on time, and show up at the correct polling place. Follow these steps to make sure can vote in this year’s election: 

Election Day is Tuesday, November 4th
Wyoming polls are open from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm

·         Make sure you are registered to vote. If you are not already registered, Wyoming allows qualified voters to register at the polls on Election Day. However, you must bring an acceptable form of ID to the polls for same day registration. (example: passport or Wyoming driver’s license)
·         Locate your polling place.   
·         Get to the polls early to avoid the rush.
·         Contact your Wyoming County Clerk’s office with any further questions
·         Learn more about the ACLU’s efforts to protect voting rights.

We encourage all Wyoming voters to make their voice heard and vote in the upcoming election. Voting is one of our most basic rights, and it is the fundamental right which all of our civil liberties rest. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Marriage Equality Comes to Wyoming

Federal Court Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban in Wyoming

CHEYENNE, WY – Today, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl declared Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The State of Wyoming has until October 23rd to decide if it will appeal the decision. Governor Mead indicated last night that the state would not appeal. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wyoming celebrates this decision. Wyomingites will soon have the freedom to marry the person they love without regard to gender. The ruling also requires Wyoming to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples performed in other states.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for this decision when it declined to hear appeals from states seeking to uphold bans on same-sex marriages. This included Denver-based Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings from this summer.

“Gay couples in Wyoming will soon be legally entitled to share the pride and security that comes with a marriage license,” says Jennifer Horvath, staff attorney with the ACLU of Wyoming. “It is a historic and exciting day in the Equality State.”

The ACLU has been working for the rights of LGBT people since 1936, when it brought its first gay rights case. The organization filed the first freedom to marry lawsuit for same-sex couples in the nation in 1970, represented Edie Windsor in her successful challenge to the federal Defense of Marriage Act in June 2013, and filed marriage lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples pending in several other states.

“People can get married, but might not share their happy news for fear of getting fired or kicked out of their home,” Horvath said. “Discrimination against gay people is still legal in Wyoming. Where people work, live and play should not be dictated by sexual orientation. By extending existing nondiscrimination protections, we can all enjoy equal rights in the Equality State.”

Read Judge Skavdahl’s ruling.