‘Kids for Christ’ no longer silenced in Okla. school district
TULSA, Okla. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have reached a settlement with an Oklahoma school district on behalf of a Christian children’s club that filed suit after school officials revoked the club’s ability to promote itself to students as other community-led groups were allowed to do. In light of the settlement and a change in district policies, which will allow the club to communicate once again, ADF attorneys filed a stipulated dismissal of the lawsuit Friday.
“A Christian organization should have the same right to publicize its voluntary meetings as other groups do,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Matt Sharp. “The district has done the right thing in revising its unconstitutional policy. That will allow ‘Kids for Christ’ and other similar groups to have the same access to publicize their events to students that all other groups enjoy.”
Owasso Public Schools had rescinded the Owasso Kids for Christ club’s ability to promote its activities through fliers, announcements, signs, “open houses,” and other methods on the grounds that the club, which meets outside of class time, is religious. However, the school district allowed other groups such as the Boy Scouts, YMCA, and local businesses to promote their activities to students.
The district had in place a policy stating, “No literature will be distributed that contains primarily religious, objectionable, or political overtones which may be beneficial to any particular group or business at the expense of others.”
In its preliminary opinion in the case, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma found “evidence suggesting that [the Christian club’s co-founder] was not permitted to send out flyers announcing OKFC events solely because OKFC is a religious organization and, regardless of forum type, this would constitute impermissible viewpoint discrimination.”
As part of the settlement, the district agreed to allow the club to post fliers on a community bulletin board and place them on a literature table in each school. The club can participate in an information night held each semester for community groups to promote their activities and have announcements made over the public address system regarding cancellation of club meetings, just as other groups are allowed to do.
The district amended its policies to affirm that no community group’s fliers would be denied “because of the political, religious, or philosophical content of the materials.” The district will also pay for the club’s attorneys’ fees.
Richard White, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, was local counsel in the case, Owasso Kids for Christ v. Owasso Public Schools.
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.