ADF lawsuit leads to equal access victory for Long Island Christian student club
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — An Alliance Defense Fund lawsuit has led to official recognition for a student-led Christian club at the Hicksville Union Free School District, which originally refused to recognize the club. In light of the district’s decision to change course and grant the club equal access to the rights, benefits, and privileges extended to all other non-curriculum student clubs, ADF attorneys filed a voluntary dismissal of the club’s federal lawsuit against the district Friday.
In addition to granting recognition and equal access to the club, the district also adopted a resolution affirming its “continuing policy to comply with the Equal Access Act,” a federal law that prohibits government schools from discriminating against religious student clubs that wish to meet on campus during non-instructional time.
“Christian student groups shouldn’t be discriminated against simply because they are religious, and the school district in this case has affirmed that principle,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Matt Sharp. “Any school districts acting inconsistently with federal law and the Constitution in this regard should follow the lead of Hicksville Union Free School District and the other districts on Long Island that eventually took action to respect the constitutionally protected right of their students to express their beliefs and meet as other student groups do.”
The Hicksville suit was the third one filed by ADF attorneys over the last three years against Long Island school districts for unconstitutionally banning student-led Christian clubs. The other two suits resulted in official recognition for clubs at Lindenhurst Union Free School District and Half Hollow Hills Central School District.
Over the years, numerous students had sought to have a Christian club established at Hicksville High School but had been repeatedly denied by Principal Brijinder Singh. At the time the school denied recognition to the Frontline Club last year, more than 35 other clubs were officially recognized. The principal had stated, “other schools may have [a Christian club], but I don’t want this in my school.”
Recognized clubs at the school are able to access facilities before and after instructional time, make announcements, post fliers and ads for club activities, conduct field trips during the school day, raise funds, and participate in Homecoming Week activities, among other activities.
Robert W. Dapelo, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, served as local counsel in the lawsuit Frontline Club v. Board of Education of the Hicksville Union Free School District, which was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.