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ACLU sues school district over Ms. magazine restrictions

MARTINEZ, Calif. -- The American Civil Liberties Union is suing a school district that recently decided to require parental permission before allowing students to check Ms. magazine out of school libraries.

ACLU attorneys filed the suit Tuesday in Contra Costa County Superior Court against the Mount Diablo School District in an attempt to end the policy, which requires students to have permission slips from a parent and teacher before checking out copies of the feminist magazine.

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'Practically, the restrictions are tantamount to a ban on Ms. magazine, in violation of students' and teachers' rights to academic freedom,' said Wendy Wyse, attorney for the ACLU.

ACLU executive director Dorothy Erlich said the suit, brought on behalf of Ms. and six students, parents and teachers, counters a growing trend of censorship in America.

The suit against the district, located 30 miles east of San Francisco, resulted from a three-month campaign last spring by some 400 parents and fundamentalist church groups against some material, which they contended was pornographic and immoral, in certain issues of the magazine.

After much debate, the board voted 3-2, with two women members dissenting, to place restrictions on the availability of the magazine in all district schools.

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'I feel the magazine should be freely available on the shelves from a philosophical as well as a practical point of view,' board trustee Nancy Gore said after learning of the ACLU suit.

Board members said that, to their knowledge, Ms. magazine is the only restricted publication in the district libraries. Since the restrictions went into effect, there have been six requests for the magazine, Ms. Gore said.

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