May 25, 2017

Katie Sierra

Katie Sierra was born in Panama into a military family; her father served in the U.S. Army and was later a contractor employee of the military, in which two of her uncles also served. During Sierra's childhood, her family moved around frequently; prior to attending Sissonville High School in Pocatalico, West Virginia (a community near Charleston), she had attended eleven schools and lived in Panama, New Mexico, Ohio and Kentucky. The Katie Sierra suspension controversy began in October 2001 when high school student Katie Sierra was suspended from Sissonville High School for her activism in opposition to the bombing of Afghanistan. The fifteen-year-old Sierra was engaged in anti-war activism at her school, near Charleston, West Virginia, wearing clothes with handwritten messages objecting to U.S. militarism, racism, sexism, and homophobia. She applied for permission to start an anarchist club at the school, and was denied by the school's principal. Her attempts at publicizing the club led to her being suspended from school for three days. Incendiary comments by the principal and the members of the school board were reported in the press and provoked a controversy that garnered national and international media attention. Following verbal and physical assaults by Sierra's fellow students, her mother withdrew her from the school and, with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, they initiated legal action against the headmaster and the school board. Initially unsuccessful and subject to various setbacks, these efforts eventually succeeded in overturning the school's decision not to allow the club, although the propriety of other actions by the school was upheld. Sierra briefly returned to Sissonville High in August 2002 before again withdrawing over peer harassment after less than a week. The actions and attitude of the school toward Sierra were sharply criticized in the media for what critics perceived as censorship and McCarthyism, as a dark sign of post–September 11th American society and its concept of freedom of speech.

Source: Wikipedia