Skip to content

IN pro-life club, high school student challenge revoked status over pro-life flyers

ADF attorneys and Charitable Allies appeal decision that restricts free speech for students
A row of blue lockers lines a school hallway

CHICAGO – An Indiana high school student and her pro-life student group are appealing a court decision against them in a lawsuit they filed after school officials derecognized the group because the student sought permission to post flyers that administrators found objectionable. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing the student and the group in E.D. v. Noblesville School District entered their appearance in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit on Wednesday.

In August 2021, the freshman student met with the principal of Noblesville High School to form a chapter of Students for Life of America. After the student completed all required steps, the school officially recognized the group. However, officials later told her she could not post flyers that included pro-life messages. Shortly after that, the principal derecognized the group.

“Students don’t lose their First Amendment right to free speech when they walk into a school building,” said ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann. “This isn’t just about a flyer; this is about a school telling a high-schooler that she can’t publicly express messages that are important to her. School officials punished the student because she sought to use flyers that expressed pro-life messages. While other student groups at the school are allowed to express messages that are important to them, this club was specifically punished because of the messages on the flyers.”

At the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the student met with Dr. Craig McCaffrey, the principal of Noblesville High School, to discuss forming Noblesville Students for Life, which she hoped would “educate [her] peers on the issue of abortion and empower [her] peers in a local community with pregnancy-related items.”

After the student filled out the questionnaire the principal gave her, the school approved the group. A few weeks later, the student sought permission to post flyers that used a Students for Life of America template that 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.” School staff insisted that she post the flyers without the pictures, telling her at one point that the flyer could not be “political.” The same day the student met with those administrators, the principal derecognized the group.

“We are eager to protect the rights of students whose views may differ from some preferred viewpoint,” said Zac Kester, CEO and managing attorney of Charitable Allies.

“The district court’s decision discourages parents and weakens First Amendment protections by insisting that a temporary loss of rights is nothing to worry about,” added Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

# # #

Related Profiles

Mathew Hoffmann
Mathew Hoffmann
Legal Counsel
Mathew Hoffmann serves as legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, where he is a key member of the Center for Academic Freedom.