Pro-life high school students in Indiana sought help from a legal group this month after school administrators allegedly threw away the students’ pro-life poster promoting adoption over abortion.
Fox 59 News reports Liberty Counsel, a pro-life legal group, recently sent a letter to administrators at Carmel High School in Carmel, Indiana that defends the students’ free speech rights.
The pro-life students said they spent more than 25 collective hours painting the poster display that symbolized the number of babies’ lives lost to abortion every day. They said the posters included 300 hearts and the message, “3,000 Lives Are Ended Each Day” followed by the word “Abortion” with letters crossed out and replaced to spell “Adoption.”
School administrators are accused of taking down the display and throwing it away after another student complained that it was “offensive,” according to the report.
“By allowing other student clubs to post their viewpoints throughout the school while banning a poster from Carmel Teens for Life, the school has engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.
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“Schools also may not censor pro-life viewpoints. The actions of the school officials are outrageous. Not only did they censor protected speech, they threatened students with retaliation if they sought legal counsel. We will hold this school and these officials accountable,” Staver continued.
Liberty Counsel explained more about the situation in a news release:
Rather than the administration calling the pro-life club’s leadership to retrieve the now-allegedly “unapproved” multi-piece poster, the poster was thrown away. School officials later claimed the multi-part poster impermissibly expressed an “ideology” and was “not approved for display.” The poster was, in fact, approved for display, as evidenced by approval stamps on each of its component pages, and it complied with club signage guidelines. The principal and assistant principal said that club signs are not permitted to “interfere with what folks are thinking or feeling comfortable with.” However, signs from other organizations promoting ideologies such as pro-LGBT and pro-Young Democrats are allowed.
School administrators also demanded the Carmel Teens for Life student members sign an which prohibits club members from using the word “abortion” in any official club communications, verbal or written, including Facebook, school posters and other official correspondence. The agreement also stated they could not contact outside legal assistance. The students were not allowed to take the agreement home or to discuss it with their parents. The club members were threatened that if they did not sign the agreement immediately the club sponsors would be forced to resign, effectively disbanding the club and excluding it from official recognition.
School district officials released a statement to Fox 59 News on Tuesday, saying their legal counsel contacted Liberty Counsel to “amicably” resolve the situation after it received the letter. The school district said it plans to provide a preliminary response by Friday.
However, it also accused Liberty Counsel of reporting the situation publicly “contrary to its conversations” with the school district.
“Carmel Clay Schools’ staff and administration are treating the claims made in this letter very seriously,” the statement said. “We are reviewing the matter to determine what happened and to respond to our students and community in an appropriate and respectful manner.”