Thomas More Society Defends First Amendment Rights of Students for Life Club
Contact: Tom Ciesielka, 312-422-1333, firstname.lastname@example.org
HAMPTON, Iowa, April 16, 2015 /Christian Newswire
/ -- Hampton-DuMont High School has received a demand letter from the Thomas More Society on behalf of Students for Life of America and student Isabell Akers. The letter charges that school principal Steve Madson has unconstitutionally discriminated against Isabell, and other pro-life students, by denying her the right to form a Students for Life club at the Hampton, Iowa public school.
The letter from the Thomas More Society, a nonprofit national public interest law firm, stated that the school's refusal to officially recognize the Students for Life club as a proper student organization constitutes a violation of the students' rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. By law, all students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political. Students for Life of America and the Thomas More Society request that the principal promptly approve the Students for Life club at Hampton-Dumont High School.
Akers, a senior at Hampton-Dumont, attempted to start a Students for Life club during her sophomore year, but met resistance from administrators. After a series of delays and denials, the school eventually allowed the group to meet periodically through 2014, but prohibited them from promoting the club or hosting events. In February of 2015, Akers reapplied for sanctioned school club status, but was again denied, because according to Madson, Students for Life is too "controversial."
"The pro-life students are simply asking for equal treatment," explained Thomas More Society associate counsel Jocelyn Floyd. "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). By law, Hampton-Dumont High School administrators must give their pro-life students the same opportunities as they give all these other school clubs."
"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," stated Akers. "By forbidding our Students for Life club from putting up posters and not letting us be included in the yearbook with other clubs, the school administration has been treating us like second-class citizens."
"High school administrators have no right to discriminate against pro-life students," added Kristan Hawkins, president of the national organization Students for Life of America. "On the contrary, high school students have the right to form Students for Life clubs to educate and inform their peers on the tragedy of abortion and to help those facing unplanned, crisis pregnancies. We are thankful for brave students like Isabell, who reached out to Students for Life of America, and for our attorneys at the Thomas More Society for their help to make Isabell's Students for Life group an official, school-based club, and ensure that her rights are recognized the same as those of her peers." Read the demand letter from the Thomas More Society to Hampton-Dumont High School principal Steve Madson here
To interview Thomas More Society attorney Jocelyn Floyd, contact Tom Ciesielka, 312.422.1333, email@example.com
To interview Students for Life of America president Kristan Hawkins or Hampton-Dumont High School student Isabell Akers, contact Kristina Hernandez, 908.902.8473, firstname.lastname@example.org
. About the Thomas More Society
Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm that exists to restore respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way to the United States Supreme Court. www.thomasmoresociety.org
About Students for Life of America
Students for Life of America is the nation's largest pro-life youth organization and currently serves more than 850 groups in college, high schools, and medical schools across the United States. Students for Life seeks to create a culture where those most affected by abortion are empowered and equipped to recruit their peers to join this human rights movement, save lives on the front lines, lead local and national initiatives, and provide tangible resources while supporting those facing an unplanned pregnancy. www.studentsforlife.org