A law firm has sent a demand letter to the Hampton-Dumont High School of Hampton, Iowa, that charges that school principal Steve Madson has unconstitutionally denied a student’s rights. Student Isabell Akers and her group, Students for Life of America, is asking for equal treatment by the school, which denied its application to meet at the high school. The principal denied Akers’ application, saying the group was too “controversial.”
Jocelyn Floyd, an attorney for the Thomas More Society, said in a press release “The pro-life students are simply asking for equal treatment.” Attorney Floyd added, “Here the school is trying to claim that its lesser treatment is justified because Isabell’s club doesn’t tie in with the school’s curriculum—but neither do most of the school’s other clubs, such as the book club, mock trial, or SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving). By law, Hampton-Dumont High School administrators must give their pro-life students the same opportunities as they give all these other school clubs.”
In the demand letter, the Thomas More Society states that the Hampton-Dumont school district’s refusal to recognize the club as a proper student organization constitutes a violation of the students’ rights under both the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In a statement, the Thomas More Society said “All students who wish to form non-curricular clubs must be treated equally, even if the clubs they wish to form are religious or political.”
Akers, a senior at Hampton-Dumont High School, tried to start a Students for Life club when she was a sophomore. However, according to the Thomas More Society, school administrators put up roadblocks. After a number of denials, the school did allow the club to meet periodically in the spring and fall of 2014. However, the school did not allow the group to advertise or host events. Since she will graduate this year, Akers applied for school approval of her club so as to leave an established organization for future students. Once again, Principal Madson denied the application.
Since Akers will soon graduate, she tried once again in February to acquire school club status for her Students for Life club, to leave an established club in place for future high school leaders. However, the principal once again denied her application, claiming that the Students for Life club is too “controversial.” Of the decision, Akers declared “By forbidding our Students for Life club from putting up posters and not letting us be included in the yearbook with other clubs, the school administration has been treating us like second-class citizens.” For her part, attorney Kristan Hawkins of the Thomas More Society said “High school administrators have no right to discriminate against pro-life students…On the contrary, high school students have the right to form Students for Life clubs to educate and inform their peers on the tragedy of abortion and to help those facing unplanned, crisis pregnancies.”
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