by Steven Ertelt
September 18, 2007
Alexandria, VA (LifeNews.com) — A Virginia school is the subject of a lawsuit from a pro-life law firm after it denied official recognition to a student pro-life club but granted official recognition to student groups that focus on other issues. Colonial Forge High School is the latest to come under fire for discriminating against pro-life students.
A student at the school wanted to start a pro-life student club on campus and applied for her club to become officially recognized.
Officially recognized student clubs enjoy privileges such as access to the school newspaper, bulletin boards, and the public announcement system, as well as being able to participate in student activities programs and club fairs.
Stafford County School officials denied the student’s application, stating that her pro-life club “does not meet the standard of a direct curricular link.”
But no policy exists that requires clubs to be curriculum-related, nor are there any guidelines that govern how such a determination is made, according to attorney David Cortman.
Cortman, a senior counsel at the Alliance Defense Fund, told LifeNews.com, “Christian and pro-life students cannot be treated as second-class citizens on campus."
"The student we represent wanted to start a pro-life club at her school, just as other students have been allowed to start their own clubs, yet school officials denied her and not the others," he said. “Under the law, school officials cannot discriminate on the basis of an arbitrary decision about the worthiness of the club’s subject matter.”
The Stafford County School granted official recognition to other student groups that do not appear to have a “direct curricular link” on campuses within its district, including Young Democrats, Students Against Drunk Driving, and Key Club.
“Because of the lack of a clear policy outlining how student clubs are granted official recognition, certain school and district officials have been given unaccountable discretion to determine which clubs are approved and which are not,” Cortman explained. “Their denial of this pro-life student club is inconsistent and unconstitutional.”
ADF filed the lawsuit for the unnamed student at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division.
The case is S.H. v. School Board of Stafford County.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.alliancedefensefund.org