RI prayer banner case student to get Playboy award

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — An atheist student who fought to have a prayer banner at her Rhode Island public high school removed is getting an award named for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

WPRO-AM reports (http://bit.ly/10ngeRr) Jessica Ahlquist is among this year’s winners of the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Awards. She won in the education category for what a Tuesday news release calls her “courageous and successful lawsuit.”

A May 22 reception is scheduled at the Playboy Mansion, in Los Angeles. An event publicist says Ahlquist will attend. Winners each get $5,000 and a plaque.

Ahlquist was threatened for challenging the Cranston school banner’s constitutionality. She has spoken all over the United States about her legal fight. A humanist association raised $60,000 for a scholarship for her.

The Hefner awards were established in 1979 to honor people’s contributions to protecting First Amendment rights.

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