Angelique Clark is finally allowed to start a pro-life club at her Las Vegas high school.
The Clark County School District reached a final agreement with the pro-life student this week that will protect her freedom of speech, according to a press release from the Thomas More Society, which represented her. The decision comes almost a year after Clark submitted her application to start a pro-life club at her school.
“We’re pleased that District officials worked so diligently with us to protect the First Amendment rights of Angelique, her pro-life club, and all their students,” said Jocelyn Floyd, associate counsel of Thomas More Society. “This settlement is a victory not only for Angelique and her pro-life club, but for all students who wish to speak out or form clubs to address issues that they’re facing.”
The settlement with the school district includes official approval of the pro-life club, an agreement to treat the club just like other non-curricular school clubs and a revised school board policy that will bring the school district in line with the law, according to the press release.
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In August, the legal group filed a lawsuit against West Career and Technical Academy and the Clark County School District on behalf of the 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, LifeNews previously reported.
“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 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.”
A few weeks later, the school district backed down in the face of the lawsuit. Throughout the fall, the school district and legal group have worked to reach a settlement agreement.
“I am so excited that I will finally be able to start a pro-life club at my high school,” Clark said, previously. “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.”
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.”