Report: Student in prayer banner case to get Playboy award

A Rhode Island student who fought to have a prayer banner at her public high school in Cranston removed is getting an award named for Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.

WPRO-AM reports 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 news release calls her "courageous and successful lawsuit."

A May 22 reception is scheduled at the Playboy Mansion. Winners get $5,000 and a plaque.

Ahlquist, an atheist, was harassed and threatened for challenging the banner's constitutionality. But others rallied around her. She has spoken all over the U.S. about her legal fight, and a humanist association raised over $60,000 for a scholarship.

The awards were established in 1979 to honor individuals' contributions to protecting First Amendment rights.

Ahlquist challenged the hanging of the banner saying that as an atheist, it violated her first amendment rights. A federal judge agreed and ordered the banner be removed.

The banner was removed in March 2012.

NBC 10 contributed to this report.