Three Black high school students in Georgia are suing the Effingham County School District,, alleging that officials violated their First Amendment rights by enforcing an unconstitutional dress code that prohibited Black Lives Matter attire but allowed nooses and confederate emblems on campuses.
Lakeisha Hamilton, the mother of one of the students, and Tauretta McCray, the mother of the other two students, filed the federal civil rights lawsuit against the school district on behalf of their minor children, according to Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB).
They say that administrators at Effingham County High School and Effingham College & Career Academy, which is about 20 miles from Savannah, “engaged in an egregious pattern of deliberately ignoring complaints” about racial intimidation and discrimination incidents.
“The school permits faculty to display paraphernalia supporting former President Donald Trump,” according to the lawsuit. “However, the school has expressly prohibited plaintiffs from wearing Black Lives Matter messaging because it is disruptive and controversial.”
The lawsuit claims that school administrators informed Black students that Black Lives Matter messaging shows a disruption while the Confederate flag symbolizes “heritage, not hate” and is a source of pride, GPB reports.
In addition, there was an instance of a white educator making explicitly racist remarks, plus “a white student wearing a full Hitler costume during spirit week after obtaining prior approval from a teacher” and openly using racial slurs, including the N-word. According to the lawsuit, the discriminatory incidents at Effingham County High also included two students writing racial epithets on lockers in the baseball locker room and someone hanging a noose in the football locker room.
The plaintiffs want the court to rule that the actions of the Effingham County School District violated the Civil Rights Act, as well as the First and 14th Amendments. They are also seeking to have their disciplinary records related to the charges expunged, a permanent injunction requiring the district to comply with federal law and monetary compensation.
According to the Associated Press, Effingham County School Superintendent Yancy Ford said that the district had not yet been served with the lawsuit and that response to its claims would be made in court.