A team of constitutional experts is blasting a Tacoma, Wash., high school for promoting a pro-homosexual agenda while censoring a pro-life campaign in the classrooms and hallways.
The Thomas More Society‘s letter to Wilson High School officials condemned their decision to allow posters and events for a “gay”-straight alliance while refusing to allow similar posters and events related to the local Students for Life.
“Public schools have a duty to treat all student groups equally,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Wilson High School’s current policy allows administrators to censor any messages they deem ‘offensive’ – in this case, any pro-life message – while allowing other groups broad freedom of speech.”
Breen said the administration “is violating the rights of the students involved in Wilson Students for Life, who do not lose their constitutionally protected freedom of speech when they enter the schoolhouse door.”
Wilson officials did not respond to a request from WND for comment.
The Thomas More Society said in its letter that it “appears that other posters hung in the school, including those hung by the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), include messages which could ‘offend staff or students, put others down if they have a different belief/opinion, or otherwise cause disruption’ – such as symbols depicting homosexual unions and criticizing those who don’t agree that this sort of ‘love’ should ‘have no limits.’
“Yet these posters were approved by the administration while posters containing a message in favor of the pro-life cause were not permitted.”
It was student Bryce Asberg, working with Wilson Students for Life, part of Students for Life of America, who was told by school officials the students could not put up posters or hold a day of silence and a candlelight vigil.
The pro-life student organization, the legal team explained, “has faced constant hostility from the school’s administration, such as forbidding the group to hang its posters or host certain events, while other student groups have faced no similar restrictions.”
Asberg’s group wanted to put up two posters. The first reads “Since Roe v. Wade 1/3 of our generation has been aborted” and features picture of a milk carton and the word “missing” above a photo of a baby. The second poster quotes President Ronald Reagan: “I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion is already born.”
But school officials said the posters might “offend.”
However, the same officials allowed flyers and posters promoting homosexual relationships to students by showing conjoined male symbols and conjoined female symbols and stating, “Love knows no limits.”
“The Wilson High School administration cannot be allowed to trample on the constitutional rights of Wilson Students for Life,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America. “Our pro-life students will not accept their right to free speech being taken away. Sadly, this case shows that viewpoint discrimination is alive and well in today’s schools and that administrators think they can still get away with it.”
The lawyers explained federal law doesn’t allow educators to pick and choose which messages to allow.
“Under the federal Equal Access Act … it is ‘unlawful for any public secondary school which receives federal financial assistance … to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting … on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings,’” the attorneys said.
“More than merely guaranteeing a student group can hold meetings on school grounds, this act guarantees equal treatment of all extracurricular student groups and equal access to all groups to promote their messages on school grounds.”
Banned under the federal law is “viewpoint discrimination,” which is promoting or censoring a message because of its content. It’s also unlawful to use fear of a potential disturbance as a reason for censorship.
“Discussion of controversial topics and distribution of material relating to political issues in public high schools are not prohibited. Instead, students have the ‘undoubted freedom to advocate unpopular and controversial views in schools and classrooms,’ balanced only against society’s countervailing interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior,” the letter said.