Administrators of a Las Vegas school district have received a demand letter from attorneys at the Thomas More Society charging them with unconstitutionally discriminating against a student by denying her the right to form a pro-life club at her high school.
Students for Life of America (SFLA) states that Amy Dockter-Rozar, principal of West Career and Technical Academy (WCTA), and Superintendent Pat Skorkowsy of the Clark County School District have both received the demand letter from attorneys Jocelyn Floyd and Mark R. Smith.
Angelique Clark, a sophomore at WCTA, claims that she was denied permission to have her pro-life club become an official student club equal to other clubs at WCTA. The attorneys representing her argue their review of Clark County School District (CCSD) policies “shows that CCSC has created two categories of clubs, differentiated on the basis of whether the clubs’ topics relate to generic governmental or school goals.”
The letter continues:
West Career & Technical Academy’s refusal to officially recognize this pro-life club constitutes a violation of Angelique’s rights under both the federal Equal Access Act (“EAA”) and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Further, Clark County School District’s “two tier” club policy is itself a violation of all students’ rights under the EAA and the First Amendment.
The student reportedly submitted an application to form a club, complete with a faculty sponsor signature and a list of 25 interested students, to the Student Activities Office in December of 2014. She states her adviser informed her in February of this year that her club had been denied, without any official notice in writing.
Angelique proceeded to research various applicable laws that pertain to students’ rights in forming clubs on campuses and sent a letter with her findings to Dockter-Rozar and Vice Principal Yee.
Later that month, Angelique met with Yee and her adviser, who reportedly informed her of the following reasons for the denial of her club:
- The name was not inclusive enough–it would make people on campus with the opposite view feel left out and look bad for the school in the media.
- Regardless of the name, simply having a club that picks a side on the topic of abortion was not inclusive enough.
- Permitting a pro-life club would cause negative media coverage of the school for “supporting” the pro-life movement.
- There are “far more qualified” people who know more about abortion than a sophomore in high school.
- The topic of abortion is controversial.
- Public schools are “different” when it comes to First Amendment rights to speak and assemble.
Angelique followed up with a letter to another school official, which received no response, and scheduled another meeting with Yee, which was cancelled and not rescheduled.
When Thomas More Society attorneys advised the student to resubmit her application on a “Club Sanction” form, rather than a “Club Charter” form, Angelique was told by Yee’s office that the “Club Sanction” form did not exist.
The attorneys observe that WCTA already has an Anime Club, a Key Club, a Gay/Straight Alliance, and a Bible club.
A report at the Las Vegas Sun states this case is the second concerning free speech that has been raised against the school district in two days.
“Yesterday, lawyers from the Liberty Institute threatened legal action over a North Las Vegas 6th grader who was banned from using Bible verses in a presentation about herself,” the Sun reported Thursday.
“No high school administrator has the right to deny pro-life students their free speech rights,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of SFLA. “Brave students like Angelique set amazing examples for their peers both in their own communities and on a national level by standing up not only for the preborn and their mothers facing unplanned pregnancies, but for their own First Amendment rights as well.”
“I am not asking the administration to agree with my pro-life position,” Angelique said in a statement in an SFLA press release. “I am simply asking the school to give pro-life students at West Career and Technical Academy the opportunity to make our voices heard.”
“We want to discuss our view on an important topic–why choosing life is important,” she added. “This may be a controversial issue, but that doesn’t mean we should lose our right to free speech.”
“Denying students their right to form a pro-life club on the grounds that it’s ‘too controversial’ and ‘not inclusive’ is an affront to the First Amendment,” said Floyd, associate counsel of the Thomas More Society. “High school administrators should encourage their students to engage in dialogue on important societal issues, not censor the message simply because there are differing viewpoints.”
Neither Dockter-Rozar nor Skorkowsy responded to Breitbart News’ requests for comment.