A Las Vegas high school has backed down in the face of a lawsuit from a pro-life organization representing a pro-life student who was denied the ability to start a pro-life club on campus.
Thomas More Society attorneys filed a lawsuit against West Career and Technical Academy and the Clark County School District on behalf of a student who was denied the right to start a pro-life club. The lawsuit asserted that school administrators violated student Angelique Clark’s free speech rights by denying her application to form a Students for Life group at the Las Vegas high school.
“When I first applied to form a pro-life club, I never imagined I would have to sue my school to be able to exercise my free speech rights,” said Angelique Clark, a junior at the academy. “My fellow pro-life students and I simply want to make our voices heard and to educate other students on a topic that’s important to us – choosing life. We hope for a quick resolution that allows us to get the West Career and Technical Academy Pro-Life Club up and running as soon as possible.”
Now, the pro-life legal group informs LifeNews.com that a quick resolution has indeed taken place. This week, the Clark County School District officially approved Angelique Clark’s pro-life club in response to the lawsuit.
“We’re pleased with the quick response we’ve received from District officials,” said Jocelyn Floyd, Associate Counsel of Thomas More Society. “They have acknowledged that these are serious issues and we’re grateful for their efforts to protect the speech rights of not just Angelique and her club, but of all future clubs in the Clark County School District.”
As Floyd tells LifeNews, the School District’s General Counsel, Carlos McDade, sent a letter on August 31, 2015, formally confirming “that Angelique Clark will be allowed to form a non-curriculum related, non-school sponsored, student initiated, student led pro-life group at West Career & Technical Academy.” The school will be having an initial informational meeting for student groups during the week of September 7, 2015, after which Angelique’s club will be able to begin hosting meetings and events, the same as all other non-curriculum related clubs.
The Society and the District are still in the process of negotiating a final settlement and the Society expects it to lead to a smooth resolution and dismissal of the lawsuit.
“I am so excited that I will finally be able to start a pro-life club at my high school,” said Clark. “I started with the idea to provide a safe place to educate my fellow students on the beauty of life at all stages, and I am very thankful to Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society for helping me defend my rights so that students at my school can now gather for life. I look forward to running the WCTA pro-life club with all the other students who have already signed up to be a voice for the voiceless and ignored—the preborn and the mothers who think abortion is their only choice.”
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Clark submitted her application to start a pro-life club in December 2014. In February 2015, after almost three months of no response, she was told that Assistant Principal Allen Yee had denied the application. Clark met with Yee and was told that the club could not be approved, because:
* abortion was “controversial”
* a pro-life club would make pro-choice people feel left out
* there were others “more qualified” to speak on the issue than a high school student
Clark sought assistance from Students for Life of America, a national organization that provides support to student pro-life clubs. At the organization’s request, Thomas More Society attorneys sent a demand letter to the West Career and Technical Academy and the Clark County School District in May 2015. The document formally challenged administration denial of the club as a violation of the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The lawyers asked the district to amend its club policies and requested that the school approve the Students for Life club. Three months later, neither Clark, Students for Life, nor the Thomas More Society have received any response to the demand letter and the school and district have taken no action to approve the club.
“We are proud of Angelique for not allowing her school administrators to trample her free speech rights,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “She is determined to be a voice for the preborn and their mothers, even though she’s been faced with so much resistance,” stated Hawkins, adding, “We are thankful for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society who are standing up for Angelique’s right to form a Students for Life club.”