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Teen barred from forming anarchy club, wearing anti-war T-shirt

By The Associated Press

11.02.01

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Katie Sierra, 15, takes oath before testifying at Oct. 31 hearing in Kanawha Circuit Court, Charleston, W.Va.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A judge ruled yesterday that a 15-year-old sophomore cannot form an anarchy club or wear T-shirts opposing the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan because it would disrupt school.

Katie Sierra was suspended from Sissonville High School for three days for promoting the club. She was also told she could not wear T-shirts with messages such as: "When I saw the dead and dying Afghani children on TV, I felt a newly recovered sense of national security. God Bless America."

In a complaint filed with her mother, Sierra argued her right to free speech was being denied.

Circuit Court Judge James Stucky agreed that free speech is "sacred" but he found that such rights are "tempered by the limitations that they ... not disrupt the educational process."

Sierra said she would pursue the dispute.

"I don't want war. I'm not for Afghanistan," Sierra said. "I think that what we're doing to them is just as bad as what they did to us, and I think it needs to be stopped."

James Withrow, lawyer for the Kanawha County Board of Education, argued that an anarchy club was inappropriate because students "do not feel that their school is a safe place anymore."

"Anarchy is the antithesis of what we believe should be in schools," Withrow said.

Sierra's attorney, Roger Forman, said she is "being punished for expressing her opinion."

Update

West Virginia high court won't intervene in pro-anarchy teen's case
Meanwhile, Katie Sierra's mother has pulled her from high school out of fear for safety.  11.28.01

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