Each Friday, we’ll bring you updates on the latest civil liberties news from Maine and the nation.

Racial Justice:

Today, I was thrilled to read that the Obama Administration released a guidance document to colleges and universities regarding the June ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas-Austin – a case challenging the University of Texas affirmative action admission plan. The guidance provides policy clarification on the use of race in higher education, and explains the Department of Justice and Education’s support for diverse student enrollment, as it “promotes understanding, helps to break down racial stereotypes, enables students to better understand people of different races, and prepares all students to succeed in, and eventually lead, an increasingly diverse workforce and society.” Here’s to America’s efforts to transcend racial, cultural, and language barriers to the workforce! Read more about the Department of Justice and Education's steps toward achieving and supporting diversity here.  

Hairstyle Banning in Schools:

One of my favorite children’s books is Carolivia Herron’s Nappy Hair. The book is an affirmation of unique African American characteristics with beautiful illustrations of knotted-up, twisted, nappy hair. Unfortunately, there continue to be issues of schools banning students’ hairstyles – particularly natural black hair.  A second grader was recently banned from having dread locks at the predominantly black Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of the Oklahoma ACLU stated: “For decades now, Supreme Court precedent has reaffirmed that clothing, including hairstyle, is part of a student’s speech, and if you’re going to interfere with that, then the school district has to make some findings beforehand demonstrating that there is an immediate threat to the academic environment.” You can read more about this issue in the news article here.