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Arizona high school censors, discriminates against conservative student club

Williams Field High School recognizes dozens of different student clubs but repeatedly sidelines conservative group
Published On: 7/6/2021

 

(Photo credit: Jedijoe82CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

GILBERT, Ariz. – Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Tuesday to officials with Higley Unified School District after they denied equal access to a conservative student club and also censored the group’s speech on social media and in its weekly meetings. The letter explains that censorship of the Turning Point USA chapter and the refusal to provide it with equal access violates the federal Equal Access Act and the First Amendment.

“Public school officials have no business censoring speech and denying equal access to a student group based on its political beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Williams Field High School recognizes dozens of student groups of different perspectives and allows them equal access. By denying these same rights to TPUSA, school administrators are discriminating against its viewpoints and shutting down the free exchange of ideas on campus.”

ADF represents the club and student Erin Remfrey, who started the TPUSA chapter on campus. During the group’s formation, students and faculty expressed hostility towards the group’s political views. One teacher even stated that the teacher would do whatever it took to prevent the group from being recognized on campus.

Despite this, Remfrey persisted and secured recognition for the group. Since then, school administrators have implemented additional restrictions on the way TPUSA communicates on social media. The group is being forced to disable the comment function on its social media posts, submit an agenda for each of its meetings for advance approval by school officials, and have a faculty sponsor monitor its social media posts. No other student group must abide by these restrictions.

As the ADF letter states, the school must ensure that “Turning Point USA at Williams Field High School will receive the same rights, benefits, and privileges as other non-curricular student clubs.”

  • Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-uhr)

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to ensuring freedom of speech and association for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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