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High School Shuts Down Pro-life Club for Being Too ‘Political’

Noblesville High School derecognized a student club because of the pro-life messages on the group’s flyers.
Alliance Defending Freedom
Blue lockers line an empty school hallway

Taking a stand for an issue you care about isn’t always easy, especially for a high school student. Sometimes, your peers will make fun of you, call you names, or say things about you that are untrue.

Nevertheless, some courageous students choose to take this risk anyway. E.D. is one such student. She cares deeply about bringing attention to the need for protecting the unborn and wanted to start a pro-life club on her high school campus to “positively impact [her] peers’ respect and value for life and the unborn.”

But when she tried to post flyers advertising a meeting for her club, school officials deemed her flyer too “political” and derecognized her pro-life club just weeks after approving it.

Starting a pro-life club at her high school

E.D. is a student at Noblesville High School (NHS) in Indiana. During the summer before her freshman year, she began seeking an opportunity to start and lead a pro-life club at her school called Noblesville Students for Life (NSFL). Her goals were to “raise awareness and generate discussion about the abortion issue while also doing something about it through volunteering.”

Her club would have stood alongside several other student-led clubs at E.D.’s school, including the Conservation Club, Campus Crusade for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Key Club, Leo Club, Noblesville Young Democrats, Young Republicans, and Police Explorers.

E.D. followed all the requirements to officially start NSFL as a student interest group, including meeting with her principal ahead of time to discuss the club. Initially, her principal approved the club, and at the school’s fall activities fair shortly thereafter, more than 30 students signed up for NSFL.

But the school’s attitude quickly changed.

Pro-life club derecognized by school

After the fall activities fair, E.D. prepared a flyer to advertise a meeting for the club. It included photographs of students holding signs in front of the U.S. Supreme Court reading, “I Reject Abortion,” “Defund Planned Parenthood,” and “I Am the Pro-Life Generation.”

But school officials told her she could not post the flyer. No written policy prohibited the flyer, but administrators insisted that she post it without the picture referencing Planned Parenthood because it was “political.”

After E.D. again met with an administrator to try to get her flyer approved, the principal derecognized the group.

Free speech for all students

In December 2021, E.D., represented by Charitable Allies, filed a lawsuit against Noblesville Schools in federal court. Alliance Defending Freedom and Charitable Allies attorneys are appealing the district court’s decision in favor of the school district to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Students don’t forfeit their free speech when they walk into the school building. All students have the constitutional right to express their ideas without fear of being silenced by school officials and having their clubs derecognized.

This isn’t just about a flyer—it’s about a public school telling a high schooler that she can’t express a message that’s important to her.

E.D. v. Noblesville School District

  • August 2021: E.D. was initially approved to start Noblesville Students for Life. At the school’s fall activities fair, 30 students signed up for her club.
  • September 2021: After E.D.’s flyers for the club’s meeting were deemed “political,” the principal derecognized the pro-life club.
  • December 2021: On behalf of E.D., Charitable Allies filed a complaint against the school for violating her First and 14th Amendment rights.
  • March 2024: The federal district court granted judgment for the school district. Charitable Allies appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
  • April 2024: ADF attorneys entered their appearance in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit to represent E.D. and her student group alongside Charitable Allies.