Many pro-life students have had to take legal action to protect their right to free speech at their high schools and colleges.
A group of pro-life students at Carmel High School in Indiana did just that earlier this year and won. After the students took legal action, the school agreed to allow their club, Carmel Teens for Life, to display a poster promoting adoption as a life-affirming option to abortion in their high school.
But now another group of students at Carmel High wants to hang up a pro-abortion poster, and the American Civil Liberties Union is involved.
CBS News 4 in Indiana reports the ACLU recently sued the school district on behalf of students in a new pro-abortion club “Voices United,” saying school leaders are violating the students’ freedom of speech.
The ACLU argues that because the school district made an exception to its signage policy by allowing students to hang their pro-life poster, it also should allow students to hang their pro-abortion poster.
“The High School has refused to extend a similar opportunity to post advocacy signs to Voices United, and in doing so has engaged in viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution,” the high school’s Voices United students said in a statement.
School Superintendent Dr. Nicholas D. Wahl responded to the news station with the following statement:
New signage rules for student clubs at Carmel High School were implemented January 3rd. These rules, as well as the approval process, have been very clearly communicated to both students and club sponsors and are posted online where they are easily accessible to all involved. Voices United didn’t become a student club until February 28th and has still not completed the necessary requirements to post signs in the high school – including the submission of a club logo and the draft of a proposed sign. It is our responsibility to enforce these new signage rules equitably among our more than 150 student clubs at the high school.
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It appears that the pro-life students’ poster was created and approved prior to the policy. According to Liberty Counsel, which defended the pro-life students, school leaders approved the pro-life poster and allowed the students to hang it up last fall.
“When one student complained to an administrator that it was ‘offensive,’ school officials threw the poster away without consulting with the pro-life club’s leadership,” according to Liberty Counsel. “School officials later claimed the multi-part poster impermissibly expressed an ‘ideology’ and was ‘not approved for display.’ The poster was, in fact, approved for display, as evidenced by approval stamps on each of its component pages, and it complied with school signage guidelines to the letter.”
In February, Liberty Counsel and the school district reached a deal to allow the students to display their pro-life poster in the cafeteria for a 10-day period.