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U.S. teen vows court battle over anti-war stance
4 November 2001
Charleston, West Va., (Reuters) - A 15-year-old girl who opposes U.S. military action in Afghanistan will ask the West Virginia Supreme Court to guarantee her right to express anti-war sentiments in school, her attorney said Friday.
Katie Sierra, a sophomore at Sissonville High School near Charleston, was suspended for three days last week for passing out on school grounds fliers that she described as anarchist.
The school principal also ordered her to stop wearing a red T-shirt on which she had scribbled messages criticizing Republicans and President Bush's declared war on terrorism.
Her parents filed suit, complaining that other students were allowed to wear the American flag as a fashion accessory.
But a state judge sided with Kanawha County school board members who had backed her suspension, saying in a Thursday ruling that while the high school sophomore is free to believe what she wants and to express those beliefs, "in a school educational setting, those rights are not absolute."
Roger Forman, Sierra's lawyer, said he would appeal Kanawha County Circuit Judge James Stucky's ruling to the state Supreme Court, partly to get his client's suspension expunged from her school record.
"I'm walking down the street, and I'm seeing all these cars with flags, and Katie can't even express her opinion," Forman fumed. "It scares me for America."
Sierra told Judge Stucky this week that she belongs to an "anarchy" club which rejects nationalism and touts mottoes such as "food, not bombs."