Worthy Christian News » Christian » Public School Bible Club Triumphs Against School Officials Stealing Their Rights To Meet And Adverti
Public School Bible Club Triumphs Against School Officials Stealing Their Rights To Meet And Adverti
May 8, 2001
LAKE STEVENS, Wash. - Rutherford Institute affiliate attorneys have successfully intervened on behalf of students at Lake Stevens High School who were denied their rights to establish an officially recognized extracurricular Bible club.
High School senior and Bible club founder, Megan Maschock, contacted The Rutherford Institute in January 2001 after being told by her principal, John Gebert, that the Bible club would not receive official recognition as a non-curricular student club and would therefore not receive the same rights and privileges as other non-curricular clubs. The Bible club was not allowed to meet during designated "club meeting periods," or use the school bulletin board or copier to post and distribute information about the club.
The Rutherford Institute responded by sending Maschock and Gebert information about the Federal Equal Access Act. The Act explicitly prohibits any public school from discriminating against any student-based group based on the religious, political, philosophical, or other content of its speech. Additionally, the Federal Equal Access Act requires that schools grant religious student groups official recognition with the same rights and privileges enjoyed by non-religious student groups. However, when the principal refused to respond to The Rutherford Instituteâ€™s amicable request to allow the Bible club members their rights to meet, Institute attorneys were forced to contact the assistant superintendent of the Lake Stevens School District and demand that the district change its discriminatory policy. Yesterday, Rutherford attorneys received a response stating that principal Gebert has been directed to grant the Bible club the same rights as all other non-curricular clubs, including meeting times, access to school equipment and advertising space.
Equal access means equal access to all student groups, including religious clubs," said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. "Unfortunately, even today -- seventeen years after Congress passed this important civil rights legislation and twelve years after the Supreme Court declared it constitutional -- some schools still balk at recognizing basic student rights."
The Rutherford Institute is an international nonprofit civil liberties organization committed to defending constitutional and human rights.
Rutherford Institute. Used with Permission.