A Christian student club at a Montana high school has scored a legal victory — and without filing a lawsuit.
A few intolerant students at Bozeman High School told the administration last year about the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ (FCA) view on marriage. The complaining students claimed such views went against the schools’ motto of “acceptance, respect and integrity.” The superintendent agreed and revoked the Christian club’s status as a school-sponsored club.
Leftists either don’t understand or choose to ignore the irony and hypocrisy of championing “tolerance” and “acceptance” while trying to shut down dissent. They show no tolerance, acceptance, or respect to those who believe what everyone believed about marriage for thousands of years. For students to have demanded that school officials violate the rights of fellow students for having different beliefs is a lack of integrity.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which represents several students and the Bozeman High School FCA chapter, threatened to file a federal lawsuit. In a letter, the ADF contended that Bozeman High School violated the U.S. Constitution and the federal Equal Access Act, which bars the government from denying equal access and fair opportunity or discriminating against students based on religion, political viewpoint, and other content protected by the First Amendment. An excerpt (PDF):
“Your actions violate federal law under the Equal Access Act and ignore 30-year Supreme Court precedent protecting the rights of religious student clubs to be treated equally with other student clubs,” the ADF letter says. “Refusing to recognize FCA as a school-sponsored club because of its religious mission and denying it the same privileges as other non-curricular clubs is illegal.”
The high school currently recognizes 34 clubs, including the Environmental Awareness Club, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, the Human Rights Club and the Key Club. FCA, though, is not one of them.
Because of its unofficial status, the local FCA is prohibited from making schoolwide announcements or meeting on campus during non-instructional hours. Additionally, its flyers must bear a yellow sticker (which signifies that it is not school-sponsored).
The threat proved to be effective. The ADF reported that the school has reinstated the club and revised its policies.
“The First Amendment doesn’t permit a public school to play favorites when approving student organizations,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “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.”
Photo credit: Bozeman High School