Free Speech for Pro-Life Students

A reader writes:

We recently settled a lawsuit that we brought against our daughter’s public charter school. We filed a complaint after our 6th-grader was told that she could not distribute pro-life messages to her friends at lunch. They printed positive emblems from the web to cut out and tape to their planners and book covers – things like, “Smile, your mom chose life,” and “The Catholic Church – Pro-life for 2000 years.” Very positive, nothing graphic. Well, long story short, the school called her to the office and said that she would not be allowed to bring such materials to school, would not be able to share them with her friends and would not even be allowed to talk about the abortion issue because, as the principal told her, “You might offend someone.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom took our case and we just settled for a very good policy that was completely on our terms. The kicker is, and I didn’t fully see that this would happen – many Catholics were not in our corner. This is what I’d specifically like to hear a post from you about.

This is the new normal for the Catholic, the Christian, the Jew and the Muslim. If you believe, and publicly witness to that belief, you are going to suffer at the hands of the new liberal authorities. For our family, we felt it was our only hope to utilize the first amendment on behalf of our daughter’s witness. But, there is a real resistance to using legal means to defend our rights as Christians. There is the unfortunate kidnapping of the first amendment by the ACLU on behalf of atheists, which has created real confusion in parent’s minds as to what their children can and can’t talk about in public school. And then there is this, now false, belief that it’s better to trust the school authorities with total discretion in regards to student speech. Maybe that works in a private, Catholic school, but it can never work in today’s public school.

Either we raise our children to defend and be proud of our faith, or we hand over the microphone exclusively to the groups that popular opinion has decided are most worthy of listening to.

Sorry I went on and on. I really held back!
Here is a link to the press release on our case, with links on the right sidebar to the complaint and the policy that we won in settlement.

The truth is your Constitutional rights do not end at the schoolhouse door. So I’m glad to see that this family won the case and their child’s right to free speech was not infringed. Way to go! Catholics need to stop being wussies about this and refuse to back down, as this gutsy family did. Well done, good and faithful!

  • autolukos

    Congratulations to your reader! I am more than a little amused by the ACLU-bashing at the end, though, given that organizations’ support for the free-speech rights of religious students:

    http://www.aclu.org/aclu-defense-religious-practice-and-expression

    • Almario Javier

      Agreed. While I have no brief for the ACLU when it comes to abortion or same-sex “marriage”, they are remarkably consistent on student speech of whatever variety, even those they do not particularly sympathise with. Furthermore, what was the administration thinking? Tinker v. Des Moines is still good law, and this would be a gross violation of that standard.

  • Newp Ort

    Not a fan of that smile your mom chose life slogan. Isn’t the goal of many pro lifers to remove that choice?

    • chezami

      Yes. And that oppressive fifth commandment totally takes away the power to choose to murder you and take your stuff.

      Your shallow flippancy is not your best trait.

      • Newp Ort

        Looks like somebody’s got a case of the Mondays.

        • chezami

          No. An aversion to the stupids.

  • Paul H

    I am very glad to hear about this outcome.

    However, I think we need to see Christians in these situations suing not only for a favorable policy, but for a large cash settlement. In our litigious society, I think that the threat of a financially damaging lawsuit could be one of the most effective ways of making other schools and institutions think twice about infringing religious liberty.

    (And the money could and should be donated to charity, after all expenses are paid, such as fairly reimbursing the legal team for their effort. The point is not that the person whose liberty was infringed needs money; the point is that the threat of having to pay damages might make other institutions think twice.)

  • etme

    This family deserves to hear and receive our support. And he makes a good point, that ALL faithful people benefit – or suffer – from the “new normal”, which imposes ONE view on all. See the oppressive secularist French republic, which banned “all” religious symbols from being worn in public.


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