Will school make changes or welcome lawsuit?

Will school make changes or welcome lawsuit?

Will school make changes or welcome lawsuit?

Today is the deadline for a Las Vegas-area high school to respond to allegations of discrimination against a student pro-life club.

Thomas More Society, the law firm that set the deadline in a demand letter to East Career and Technical Academy, says student Felipe Avila was also cyberbullied.

Mannix, Joan (Thomas More Society) Mannix

"The high school engaged in pretty much a pattern of discrimination against the pro-life club, which is actually something we see a fair amount of," reports Thomas More Society attorney Joan Mannix. "Essentially what it boils down to is the rules that apply to all the other clubs never apply to the pro-life club, and all the kinds of things that the other clubs are able to do to promote their clubs and to get their message out there are curtailed when it comes to the pro-life club … because they characterize the pro-life message as too controversial, or basically just something with which the school doesn't agree."

The demand letter details the breaches of First Amendment rights occurring against the East Career and Technical Academy's Students for Life Club and Avila, who is the club's current vice president and former president.

These violations of the United States and Nevada Constitutions include:

  • Denial of permission for Students for Life Club to "chalk" messages on sidewalk and pavement areas, despite allowing extensive student "chalking" by others
  • Refusal to allow Students for Life Club to distribute leaflets because they mentioned an outside organization (a pregnancy resource center), despite multiple references to outside organizations in flyers distributed by other student groups
  • Rejection of Students for Life Club requests for visual graphic inclusion in the East Tech Times student newsletter, despite the inclusion of visual graphics promoting other student groups
  • Censorship of Students for Life Club promotional materials that is clearly content based
  • Refusal of a Students for Life Club attempt to hang a banner in an area of the school building in which other groups and individuals have been allowed to do so

"Specifically, we would like to hear what they want to do to make sure that there won't be any additional bullying directed at this leader of the pro-life club," says Mannix. "In addition to that, make sure that they're going to comply with their obligations under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and a law called the federal Equal Access Act and that they're going to treat the pro-life club on an equal footing with … other non-curricular clubs like the pro-life club."

In other words, if the Gay-Straight Alliance Club or the DECA Club gets to do something, then so can the pro-life club.

"If I can put up flyers that advertise the message of my club or promote my club in different ways, then the pro-life club gets to do that as well," Mannix contends. "That's essentially what both the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act require."

If the school opts to do nothing, then the Thomas More Society will file a lawsuit.