Washington, D.C. — The Arab Student Union (ASU) at Jackson-Reed High School, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of the District of Columbia, has withdrawn its request for emergency court action this morning in exchange for key concessions by the school in the case challenging the unlawful censorship of the student club's pro-Palestinian speech.  

In response to the lawsuit, initially filed on April 24, the Jackson-Reed High School administration has reached an interim agreement to uphold the ASU students' rights and advocacy efforts by: 

  • Allowing the ASU to screen one of three films they requested— The Wanted 18, Farha, or 5 Broken Cameras—during lunch periods on May 29 and 30, 2024. 
  • Allowing distribution of the ASU’s proposed educational handout about Palestinian culture, otherwise known as a zine, including all but one of the original eight panels conceived by the students. The original zine can be viewed here.  
  • Emailing all faculty and administrators at Jackson-Reed High School to make clear that the standards applicable to student organizations regarding the posting of materials, viewing of films, and planning of events and activities apply equally to all groups.

"I'm glad we're finally able to show a film calling attention to the circumstances and the humanity of the Palestinian people," said a representative of the Arab Student Union, who remains anonymous in court documents. "This is why students' freedom of speech is so important." 

The three films from which ASU may now choose portray key moments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the Palestinian perspective—the perspective that the ASU members had been trying to share with their fellow students since December, when the school refused to allow them to show the documentary film The Occupation of the American Mind. The ASU proposed several alternatives in January, including The Wanted 18, Farha, or 5 Broken Cameras, but the school administration did not respond to these proposals until after the filing of the lawsuit.

"Public school administrators cannot trample students' First Amendment rights simply because they do not like what the students have to say. This victory reaffirms that students' rights do not vanish at the school's door,” said Arthur Spitzer, Senior Counsel at ACLU-D.C. “The lawsuit will continue, so that we can clearly establish the right of the ASU and all student groups to exercise their First Amendment rights in D.C. Public Schools.”

The complaint in today's case, Arab Student Union of Jackson–Reed High School v. District of Columbia et. al, may be found here

The Occupation of the American Mind can be viewed here