The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Censorship of Student Protest Leads to Lawsuit

Posted by thelamp on January 18, 2007

Bravo to the 13-year-old Arizona student who sued his principal for violating the teen’s First Amendment rights when he tried to protest abortion on the school campus.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund in Scottsdale, Arizona, have filed a complaint against Shenendehowa Central School District officials and Gowana Middle School’s principal on behalf of a student barred from expressing pro-life views during the national Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity, which is organized by the Stand True ministry of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The student is asking for a jury trial and permission to hold another silent protest and leaflet campaign at the school on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade court decision.

At school, the teen and two other students wore anti-abortion T-shirts, handed out flyers and wore red tape with the word LIFE across their mouths. Through court documents, they allege the school’s action against them was “humiliating and discriminatory.”

For example, in a school-wide announcement, the principal demanded that students who received a flier forfeit them to school officials. She allowed the student to remain silent, but prohibited him from telling anyone why, and forced him to remove a piece of red tape from his mouth that read “Life.” The principal allegedly said, “Students shouldn’t be thinking about issues like that at your age.” School officials had previously allowed students to engage in free expression on other controversial social issues.

At least a week before the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity was scheduled to take place, the mother of the pro-life student phoned the school district’s superintendent and spoke to a representative about her son’s plans. She left her name and phone number, but was not informed that the event violated any school or district policy.

“The First Amendment does not give school officials authority to pick and choose which speech is allowable and which is not,” said Pastor Parsley. “If a 13-year-old is mature enough to participate in sexual education courses, he certainly should be given the opportunity to express the biblical perspective on the subject.”

Students do not abandon their free speech rights when they step on school property. Frankly, the school’s actions were egregious. Young people should be encouraged to take a stand for righteousness.


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