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By Annie Kurtz, Staff Attorney

Colorado’s school boards’ decisions on policy, curriculum and budget have crucial impacts on students’ abilities to learn, grow, and flourish. With this power comes the ability to cause students harm. Recently, the ACLU of Colorado has heard concerns from communities around the state that politicized boards have started to make schools unwelcoming — and unsafe — for LGBTQ+ students, students of color and their adult allies. We won’t stand for it. That’s why we sued the Woodland Park School District (WPSD) after learning that district leadership had banned Logan Ruths — a district resident and former WPSD employee — from school board meetings, district property and other district-hosted events for a year after he expressed disagreement with anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at a school board meeting in June 2023. 

The lawsuit alleged that at the meeting, a member of the public made anti-LGBTQ+ remarks that troubled Logan. To denounce the speaker’s views, he asked: “Where else do you do comedy at? I’d love to see your show sometime.”   

According to the lawsuit, the board then stopped the meeting, threatened to call the police to remove Logan and ultimately intimidated him into leaving the property. The day after the board meeting, he received a letter from WPSD’s attorney ordering him to stay away from district property and events for a year or face criminal prosecution. When the ACLU of Colorado sued the district, our lawsuit alleged that this banishment order violated the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution and was thinly veiled retaliation for Logan’s open criticisms of WPSD leadership.  

The morning after the lawsuit was filed, WPSD rescinded its unlawful banishment order. In court, the district acknowledged that Logan’s exclusion was unwarranted.   

The case’s success is powerful evidence of the importance of holding those in power accountable. ACLU of Colorado is committed to ensuring our schools are safe and inclusive. We will not stop fighting to protect all students’ freedom to learn.