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Won U.S. District Courts

Sheeran v. Shea

Beth Sheeran in front of Spokane Falls Community College sign


Beth Sheeran was a student at Spokane Falls Community College in 2008 when she spearheaded an effort by a Christian club on campus to sponsor a pro-life event on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  She soon learned that the event would not be allowed.  The administration told Beth that “Washington is a pro-choice state," and she could not use school grounds for a pro-life display.  The display was also rejected for being too "one-sided" because it lacked pro-abortion content as well.  The administration also said the display was too "biased," "discriminatory" and "racist," apparently because it pointed out the disproportionate effects abortion has had on the African-American community.

After Beth protested this denial, the administration told Beth that the club could have the event if club members voted on it. But after they did, the administration and faculty advisor went to the club meeting and tried to intimidate them, calling the event "offensive" and saying the students could be expelled if they had the event.

Beth sought help from Alliance Defending Freedom.  Realizing that the abuse of authority would also shut doors to the Gospel, and worried that fear of being expelled might keep other Christian students from speaking the truth, Beth reluctantly decided to file a suit against the community college district. 

Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit against the community college district, challenging these actions and college policies restricting speech.  The district soon settled the case, agreeing to change its restrictive speech policies and restore the First Amendment protections of all students.

Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for the rights of students like Beth Sheeran so that they can participate equally in the marketplace of ideas.

What's at stake

Freedom of speech for students on campus.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented Beth Sheeran in a lawsuit against Spokane Falls Community College District, and defended her right to speak freely, even if college administrators disagreed with her speech.

Case Documents

Trial Court
Trial Court