GRETNA, Neb. — A Gretna High School student is questioning the school’s unwillingness to sponsor her club dedicated to fighting abortion and educating mothers on other options.
The Omaha World-Herald (http://bit.ly/2dbsulU ) reported that the Thomas More Society wrote a letter to district administrators Monday, saying the school’s decision is discrimination and violates the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act.
The society describes itself as a national nonprofit law firm “dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family and religious liberty.” It’s representing high school junior Bridget Christensen, who is a co-president of Dragons for Life, a chapter of the Students for Life of America.
School administrators said the club was denied sponsorship because its topic is a controversial one that’s political and religious.
“We’re a public school,” said Superintendent Kevin Riley. “It’s not just anybody’s socioeconomic, religious, political or ideological playground.”
However Danielle Conrad, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska disagreed with the superintendent.
“These students do not check their rights at the schoolhouse door,” said Conrad.
According to Conrad if the school allows one non-curricular student group to meet during school hours then they cannot deny access to other groups based on religious, political, philosophical or other reasons related to the subject matter.
The Thomas More Society argued that the district’s policy is inconsistent. The society pointed out that some of the school’s sponsored clubs such as the Chess Club and the Gay Straight Alliance have nothing to do with curriculum.
Jocelyn Floyd, the Thomas More Society attorney, said the society is asking for the student’s pro-life club to be treated on an equal basis with the other student-led, non-curriculum-related clubs.
“We’re going to have our attorneys thoroughly go through all of our club situations and make sure we’re following the law,” said Superintendent Riley. “We’ll get this worked out.”
The club currently is permitted to meet at the school, but not during school hours.
Omaha-area school district officials said they haven’t dealt with similar issues.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com