LOS ANGELES - Sixteen-year-old Joshua Goldman, a junior at Mira Costa High School, was allowed to distribute pro-peace leaflets at his high school today.
On behalf of the South Bay student and his parents, the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California sent a letter to the Manhattan Beach Unified School District last week demanding that school officials allow students to distribute counter military recruiting flyers without fear of punishment after Goldman was told he could not distribute leaflets without prior approval from school administrators.
"I was glad to have the chance to pass out leaflets right next to the military recruiters," Goldman said. "I wanted to do it originally because I thought passing out flyers would be a good way to let parents and students know the recruiters are on campus and get people to talk about it and that's what happened."
In a letter from the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, Superintendent Gwen Gross assured Goldman and his family that students do not need prior approval. She also said the district will conduct a faculty-wide training session on students' free speech rights on campus.
"We are very pleased at the school district's response," said Ranjana Natarajan, a staff attorney for the ACLU/SC. "California public school students enjoy broad free speech rights, including protection for distribution of printed materials. We are glad that Josh and other students will be allowed to freely distribute flyers and spark discussion and debate."
Goldman, who feeds the homeless every weekend with Food Not Bombs in Venice, hopes to study music or political science after graduating high school. He said military recruiters visit the high school about once a month and that a small percentage of his classmates serve in the military after high school. The majority of the 2,500-student school continue on to college.
Goldman and his mother contacted the ACLU after a meeting with the vice principal during which the school official told them Goldman would face punishment for distributing his flyers to classmates if he did not obtain prior approval.