Colorado Rights Blog


  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.


Students Sue Colorado Springs High School for Blocking Gay/Straight Alliance


Dec 12, 2003

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado (ACLU) filed suit today in federal district court on behalf of a group of students at Palmer High School in Colorado Springs who challenge their school’s refusal to recognize their student club, the Palmer High Gay/Straight Alliance.


The students started the club in January, 2003, but school authorities have repeatedly refused to recognize it. Without recognition, the student group cannot meet on school property on the same terms as other student groups; cannot post club-related information at the school; cannot use the public address system to make announcements; and is omitted from the school’s yearbook and official list of student-organized activities.


Similar student-led and student-initiated Gay/Straight alliances are functioning at 50 high schools in Colorado and over 2000 high schools around the country. Among other activities, they facilitate discussion between gay students, straight students, and those who are questioning their sexual identity, on such subjects as harassment, discrimination, and bias based on sexual orientation.


The lawsuit relies on the Equal Access Act, a federal statute that requires schools to grant equal access to all student clubs on a nondiscriminatory basis. The law applies to all schools that permit what are called “noncurricular” student organizations, which are clubs that are not directly tied to the subject matter taught in the school’s courses. According to the law, if a school permits even one noncurricular student club to use school facilities, then it must permit all noncurricular clubs. The Complaint asserts that Palmer permits other noncurricular student clubs and therefore must permit the Gay/Straight Alliance.


The ACLU’s clients include four seniors, two juniors, and a first-year student at Palmer High School. Defendants are Palmer High School and Colorado Springs School District No. 11. Attorneys for the students are Mark Silverstein, Legal Director of the ACLU of Colorado, and Alfred T. McDonnell, of Arnold & Porter.

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