California Pro-Life Student Group Files Lawsuit in School Discrimination Case

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 16, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

California Pro-Life Student Group Files Lawsuit in School Discrimination Case Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 16,

San Jose, CA ( — A leading pro-life law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a pro-life student group in California after a local high school denied the organization the same access to privileges that all other student groups on campus enjoy. Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund say the pro-life students were victims of discrimination.

In October, a student attending Westmont High School submitted a written request to school officials requesting to start a pro-life club.

The club was denied official status along with all rights, benefits, and privileges that all other recognized student clubs receive.

When she informed school officials that the club’s official name would be “Live Action – Pro-Life Club,” school officials allegedly denied the club any avenue to promote the club on campus.

The student indicated authorities told her she couldn’t tell other students about the existence of the club because it was “too controversial.”

ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit and motion for preliminary injunction in federal court Monday against Westmont High School.

“Public schools should recognize the constitutional rights of pro-life students just as they do for all other students,” ADF senior counsel David Cortman told about the case.

“The high school is clearly engaging in viewpoint discrimination when it denies this pro-life group the right to the same privileges extended to other student groups," he said. "Schools cannot deny student clubs these privileges just because not everyone agrees with the message.”

Owen Hege, Westmont’s principal, told the San Jose Mercury News he was surprised by the lawsuit because the school has given the pro-life club trial status.

He said he decided to proceed with allowing the group to meet, despite the sensitive issue it covers, after talking with school district officials.

"I’m surprised they didn’t make a call to me," said Hege.

The pro-life law firm filed the complaint in United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose Division. The case is P.A. v. Gordon et al.

"It’s our hope that the court will grant our motion for immediate relief so that these students can tell others about their club,” said Cortman. “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and time again that this type of discrimination is unconstitutional and this lawsuit is intended to bring the school district in compliance with the law.”

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund –