Montana High School Reinstates Christian Student Group After Alliance Defending Freedom Letter

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A Montana high school has announced that it will reinstate a Christian student club after it was removed from the school’s list of recognized student organizations in 2019. The high school reversed its decision after Alliance Defending Freedom threatened to take legal action.

According to a press release from the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Montana, has reapproved a Christian student group called the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The group was removed from the school’s approved roster of student organizations in 2019.

In a letter to the high school, the ADF informed the school that its refusal to recognize the club was a violation of the First Amendment and the Equal Access Act, a federal law passed in 1984 to ensure that schools treat student organizations equally.

Under the act, it is illegal for a school to “to deny equal access or a fair opportunity to, or discriminate against, any students who wish to conduct a meeting within that limited open forum on the basis of the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of the speech at such meetings.”

Last week, the high school announced that it would reverse its prior decision and restore the organization’s status.

ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, said that decision will restore the First Amendment rights of Christian students at the high school.

“The First Amendment doesn’t permit a public school to play favorites when approving student organizations,” Langhofer said. “We commend Bozeman High School for correcting its error and restoring rightful status to BHS Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Students have the constitutionally protected freedom to organize around their shared beliefs.

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