ACLU Backs Girls Expelled for Facebook 'Death Threats'

Chat was just 'teenage banter,' says lawyer
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2012 8:54 AM CDT
ACLU Backs Girls Expelled for Facebook 'Death Threats'
The girls named specific students they wanted to kill, the school says.   (Shutterstock)

Genuine death threats don't tend to come with "LOL" and a smiley face attached, notes the ACLU, which has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three expelled eighth-graders in Indiana. The 14-year-old girls were kicked out of school for a Facebook conversation in which they talked about which classmates they would most like to kill, reports the Wall Street Journal. The ACLU says the girls were just engaged in "teenage banter," and their use of emoticons shows that they were joking. The girls, who were reported by a classmate's mother, were expelled in February, and will be allowed to start high school in August.

"Free speech rights under the First Amendment, even when it’s speech we don't like or agree with, must still be protected, and schools do not possess infinite reach into the private lives of their students," an ACLU spokesman says. The school says the girls were expelled because their comments violated its policy on bullying. The mother who turned the girls in says she was happy with how the school handled it, but disappointed that prosecutors declined to press charges against them. "I don’t how the ACLU can back these girls," she tells the Post-Tribune. (Read more ACLU stories.)

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