Sunday, April 26, 2015

Iowa School Censors Pro-life Girl's Rights: Lawyer

When Hampton-Dumont High School senior Isabell Akers wanted to start a Students for Life (SLA) club, administrators objected because it would be too controversial.  That was before Akers enlisted the assistance of the Thomas More Society, which promptly accused the school of violating the Equal Access Act regarding school clubs as well as Akers' First Amendment rights.
"I wanted to spend my high school career educating my fellow students on the beauty of human life and providing resources to girls at my school, but instead I have been fighting for my First Amendment rights."
-- Isabell Akers
For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

Connecticut School Censors 'Controversial' Pro-life Kids

Virginia School Slow-walks Pro-life Club Approval

Protecting Kids from Pro-lifers: California Law

Buffalo NY Univ. Prof. Arrested for Bullying Pro-life Students

New Jersey School Censors Student Expressing Pro-life View

Washington School OKs Gay Message, but Censors Pro-life Students

-- From "Iowa High School Accused Of Suppressing Pro-Life Group" by Blake Neff, Contributor, Daily Caller 4/17/15

In February 2013, the [recent Thomas More Society] letter says, Akers’ attempt to form a club was rebuffed on the grounds it would be too “controversial.” The following August, Akers tried again, and after sending a follow-up inquiry every two weeks for several months she was finally allowed to create a “community club,” which was allowed to use a school meeting space but wasn’t allowed to advertise or host events like an ordinary student club.

In 2015, the letter says, Akers made another push to be recognized, arguing that a Students for Life group was legally entitled to be treated as a student club just like any other.

The letter also says that school officials tried to claim the Students for Life group would be the first non-curricular club at the school, but SLA counters that this claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

The new letter comes just one week after SLA lodged against the public school system in Fargo, N.D. There, two high schools were accused of blocking the formation of anti-abortion clubs. Fargo Public Schools has claimed the clubs were actually stalled due to a lack of proper paperwork, although they had never cited such an alleged lack of paperwork before.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Anti-abortion student group accuses school of discrimination" by Mackenzie Ryan, Des Moines Register 4/16/15

The Students for Life of America's law firm sent a letter Thursday to the school, about 100 miles north of Des Moines, on behalf of high school senior Isabell Akers and the nation's largest youth anti-abortion group.

[the letter] cites the First Amendment and the Federal Equal Access Act, which says schools that allow one noncurricular group cannot deny comparable groups because of "religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at (the group's) meetings."

Hampton-Dumont Superintendent Todd Lettow said the district has sought legal counsel, and takes matters like this "very seriously."

In February of 2014, posters that the group created were confiscated because, they were told, only official clubs were permitted to advertise in the hallways. The club also was not included in the yearbook.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Hampton-Dumont may face discrimination lawsuit" by Ashley Miller, Mason City Globe Gazette 4/20/15

“The school may not pick and choose among clubs based on its particular preferences for what the overall content of the group’s proposed speech should be,” [Thomas More Society associate counsel Jocelyn] Floyd wrote in the demand letter. “Your denial of Isabell’s request to form and operate a pro-life group on equal footing with these other non-curricular clubs constitutes a clear violation of the EAA (Equal Access Act).”

Letters from the law firm are typically successful in settling issues [such as this with other schools] outside a court setting, Floyd said. A response from Hampton-Dumont is due April 30.

Akers said she wants the club to be officially recognized so it can better spread the word about the effects of abortion and empower women in her high school and community. She'd also like to see it continue after she graduates.

Members of [SLA], which has no religious ties, include high school, college, medical and law students.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "School clubs OK unless they're pro-life" by Bob Unruh, World Net Daily 4/16/15

“The pro-life students are simply asking for equal treatment,” said Jocelyn Floyd, associate counsel of Thomas More Society. “Here the school is trying to claim that its lesser treatment is justified because Isabell’s club doesn’t tie in with the school’s curriculum – but neither do most of the school’s other clubs, such as the book club, mock trial or SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving).”

“The classification of Isabell’s club as a ‘community club’ or the school’s only ‘non-curricular’ club, and the associated limitations on her group’s right to participate in the life of the school as an official student group constitutes a violation of her rights under both the Federal Equal Access Act … and the First Amendment,” the [Thomas More Society] letter said.

“Simply put, once the limited open forum is open to one non-curricular club, then all non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs [students] wish to form are religious or political. A student group is considered curricular only if it directly relates to the curriculum of the school.”

The letter said that while Key Club “presents an admirable message of the value of community service, Mock Trial gives exposure and instruction on the American trial system, and SADD works to spread the message of the harms of drinking and driving, they are all nonetheless non-curricular clubs.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.